What happened with 150 teenagers in Anglesey?
A different way to ‘do Church’
It began at Foundations 7 in April 2016 at Quinta Conference Centre. The purpose of the conference was to introduce ideas from Hebraic Church, though we also had two guest sessions, from Alex Jacob of CMJ and Andrea Williams of Christian Concern. The key day was the Wednesday of the conference, ‘Hebraic Church day’ (since, renamed ‘Freedom in the Spirit’), where practical aspects were to be implemented, to see if theory translated well into practice.
The day started with a brief explanation of the day and a short seminar on Hebraic understandings of worship from Jo Jones. Then everyone was let loose for the rest of the day. The idea was that nothing was to be ‘led from the front’ and that everyone was free to chart their own course through the day. All we did was provide ‘stations’ to help them on their individual journeys.
The Quiet Room, was a dark area on the stage, hidden by thick curtains. There were seats and scatter cushions dotted about and a table divided into two areas. One was the ‘confessional’, a goldfish bowl filled with water. The idea was to unburden yourself by writing your ‘sins’ or burdens down on special paper strips, which then dissolve in the water. The other was the ‘communion table’, bread (unleavened) and wine (and grape juice) for folk to partake of the Lord’s Supper, either alone or with others, at a time of their choosing.
The Quinta ark was a raised area in the children’s play area where one could give a short talk / sermon / testimony. There was a maximum of ten minutes allowed and any infractions interrupted by the ‘heresy bell’ wielded by one of our team. This feature was enormously popular and allowed many unaccustomed to public speaking, or those not encouraged by their churches to do so, felt able to unburden themselves in a safe environment.
In a corner of the field we had a Scripture reading marathon going on all day, with volunteers each reading a passage before passing over to the next person on the list. There was something liberating through speaking and hearing Holy Scripture resonating over the wide outside spaces. There were two prayer walks scheduled. Ginnie and Rosie, our dance teachers, led one, of a prophetic nature. The other was led by Chris and Lindy Hill, a walk to quiet waters, where Psalm 23 was recited together. Other stations included a yeshiva that was massively over-subscribed, crafts led by my wife Monica and Deb Smith, a dance workshop and a choir workshop.
In the evening we commenced with an open session of testimonies of people’s journeys through the day. There were some incredible stories, with the keyword freedom being raised again and again. Here is a testimony from one of the delegates.
One of the greatest things about the conference was the FREEDOM. Freedom in worship; freedom to dance, freedom to preach, freedom to sing, freedom to pray, freedom to draw, freedom to be quiet, freedom to read, freedom to argue (yeshiva!), freedom to love, freedom in fellowship. And for me the Lord has used this conference to spill this freedom over into my every day walk with Him. At my place of work during my daily times of morning prayer with a dear brother and colleague I have found myself freely singing to the Lord with no fear of what my colleague might think. I have often struggled in the past with the fear of man (and still do!) but Foundations 7 has certainly helped to make a step change in the right direction. The freedom has also spilled over into my family life and during worship at my local church.
People were set free to dance, to deal with personal issues, to build new relationships, to be given a fresh vision. New friendships were forged, many journeys were shared with others in unexpected ways. You can listen to a few of these stories on a YouTube clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx_PteXFLAY.
Then Jo declared a ‘time of worship’, not led in the traditional manner but from within the congregation. One song after another flowed unaccompanied as communal singing brought the day to a close.
Something special had happened that day and without being too melodramatic we knew that God had really blessed our efforts and that the Foundations vision was going to be refined and expanded. What started out as an annual event now seems to have grown, at least in 2017, as one annual gathering, supplemented by four regional weekend events. And the model to drive them all was to be ‘Freedom in the Spirit’.
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp