Last Friday I wrote on Facebook
I couldn’t be in the main sessions or seminars so most of my NTE experience revolved around the strand group Arthur and I were leading. It was Strand 2, which means our people had been to NTE once before (and obviously come back for more!) We were looking at Micah 5:1-5a through the lens of biblical theology. The highlight for me was the students in our group. Read more
Strand groups are a key part of the AFES annual conference, National Training Event. Spending 12 hours looking at a few Bible verses probably sounds boring, right? But strand groups should be engaging, encouraging, and inspiring. After we ran a strand group in 2010, here are some reflections followed by four tips. Read more
What is the gospel? Is it Jesus as saviour or Jesus as Lord? The cross or the resurrection? Salvation from wrath or a glorious new hope? Well, it’s all of the above, isn’t it? Don Carson noted in his second talk that Paul’s definition of the gospel has a focus on incarnation and resurrection – no cross! When I heard David Cook speak on the same passage at NTE 6 years ago, he made the same point. He called it the ‘Circle of Truth’: mentioning one part of the gospel implies the others. You can’t preach one to the exclusion of the others, but nor should we feel the need to cram every concept into every explanation of the gospel. I thought this was what Don was saying as well. Don showed how Paul’s explanation of the gospel was shaped according to what was being denied in the context he was speaking into. Read more
The theme for this year’s NTE was ‘Entrusted with the Gospel’, with Don Carson as the keynote speaker (though Richard Chin opened and closed the conference). The first thing to say is that The Don was heaps better than when I saw him in Melbourne earlier this year. He was clearly in his element, teaching to Christian uni students.
One of the great things that AFES does is to instill in students an understanding of the primacy of the gospel. The preciousness of the gospel and the urgency that others hear about it, for their own good and the glory of God, is unmistakeable. It’s presented as something for everyone there to be involved in. AFES is a second decision group, not a church, so it has a more targeted purpose. For that reason, evangelism and training future church leaders are higher up the priority list.
However, I saw two issues arising at NTE concerning what it means to be entrusted with the gospel. I’ll address these in the next two posts: what gospel it is that we’ve been entrusted with; and what we should do with that gospel. There are some criticisms in these posts but that’s not to have a go. I’m a proud product of AFES. I went through the ministry in Adelaide, I worked for them, and I’m heading back into student ministry with IFES. These are self-critical questions of a ministry I love and have benefited greatly from. They’re also part of me processing how I should contribute to student ministry I’m involved in in the future.
(Photo from NTE 2010 by David Johnstone)
Arthur and I have just got back from AFES‘ National Training Event. We both went several times as students but this was our first time back in a while. Arthur’s going to post about leading Strand Group and I’ll be posting my reflections about NTE as a whole over the next few days.
It’s been 2 years since I worked full time for AFES and the first thing that struck me was how much fun it is, especially in comparison to church work.
Students are fun and relaxed. They might be concerned about what job they’ll have after uni or having a few money issues but basically, it’s a pretty good time in their lives. Even those who are having a hard time have an optimism and an energy about them that I don’t find in people my own age and older at church.
Because of the demographic, student work is generally with people who are bright, interested in big issues and used to thinking and being stretched. If you’re ready to teach, they’re ready to learn and they just drink it all in! They’re even self-motivated: we had one girl who said she enjoyed being in our group because she got to watch how we interact as a married couple which was something she’d been thinking about. That hadn’t even occurred to us!
Of course, NTE is student ministry on steroids – the cream of the crop in some ways. Students who come to NTE are normally the keenest, most enthusiastic of the bunch. So not all student ministry is like this. There are difficulties and complexities to student ministry that don’t appear in church work. But there is also a certain vigor to uni ministry that NTE is both a microcosm and a reminder of.
(Photo from NTE 2010 by David Johnstone)
Never Alone continues the series on missionary biography. It’s ‘the remarkable story of David and Robyn Claydon’. Strictly speaking you probably wouldn’t call them missionaries (though we had quite the discussion over the definition of that word in missiology) but they worked in local and overseas mission organisations and travelled the world for it so I figured it was close enough!
David and Robyn were involved with SU, IVF (later AFES), CMS and Lausanne – stock standard evangelical organisations. But in most of those cases, they ended up running or revitalising them! Most evangelicals in Australia would have benefited, directly or indirectly from their ministry.