2011: Beyond Four Walls

Two very full days.

Two international speakers.

Over twenty local and interstate presenters addressing a diverse range of topics.

Over one hundred registered delegates.

The 2011 Vose Conference with Scot McKnight was a challenging and encouraging event, providing an opportunity for delegates to think deeply about matters of central importance for Christian faith and life. Scot McKnight opened the Conference with an
electrifying session on the meaning and content of the gospel. Arguing that the four gospels are the Gospel, Scot challenged both conservative and progressive evangelical Christians to think more biblically and holistically about the positions they hold in the light
of the centrality of Jesus Christ. He continued this basic theme when considering what relevance means for churches in the twenty-first century, and when calling the church to embody the message and meaning of Jesus' atonement, rather than merely holding a doctrine
of the atonement. This, in a nutshell was Scot's message: "Embody the story of Jesus so that our lives together tell the story of Jesus."

In his keynote address, Vose Principal Brian Harris called the church to a trinitarian expression of church life. We are called to reflect the relational, endlessly surprising and creative nature of the triune God of Christian faith. Just as God is revealed to us as one God in three persons, so churches are to value community without losing individuality, and to value diversity, though not at the expense of unity. Churches are to be places of surprising creativity, loving embrace and Spirit-imbued witness.

The final keynote address was given by Dr Stephen Garner from the School of Theology in the University of Auckland. This lecture called the church to the practice of 'cultural exegesis.' That is, to the analysis of cultural movements, images and themes in order to discern how the gospel might be presented in ways relevant to the culture, how it might challenge cultural idols, and also how the Spirit might be heard speaking to the church through culture. As an example of the latter, Stephen shared a poignant story about the aftermath of the 2010 mining disaster at Pike River in which 29 miners lost their lives. He noted that rock band U2 seemed better able than the churches to help the grieving nation mourn this tragic event.

Having experienced such a rich and vibrant Conference this time, we now look forward to our special 50th Anniversary Conference in 2013! It will be a Conference not to be missed!

(This report first appeared in Beyond 4.2, September 2011)