The conference is over.
There are so many things I could say and much has already been said by other folk (Andy, Nigel, Scott for example) on their blogs which is basically what I'd be repeating so I'll settle for saying that I agree wholeheartedly with them.
One story that I would add from a student here in Wellington:
Before I went to conference I used to wonder why God couldn't just zap sin and make it go away. I now realise that He could not do that as if He did He would no longer be a just and good God. I now realise why the cross is so important.
Shortly after sharing this the student went on to volunteer to be involved in leading one of the campus groups here in Wellington. This is what I prayed and longed to see as a result of the July conference. Students coming away not only understanding the gospel better but that understanding being worked out in their day by day lives and choices after the conferenceOther significant conversations have been had with students at the conference and following on from the conference. Things are different. People are different.
For myself I have been struck and therefore horrified by how little I care about the dire situation that those who are not Christians are in. I have also been struck by how theoretical I have become about evangelism. I can talk about evangelistic strategies and ideas but am I putting it into practice in my own life? Not really, aside from a couple of conversations with people as I have flown on planes to various places. I can all too easily excuse myself by the fact that it is difficult to make non-Christian friends when I spend most of my time with Christians. I need to think more about how I use casual conversations (be it on planes or buses or in cues or cafes) as well as looking to develop meaningful friendships with non-Christians.
I have also realised afresh and deeper that a key motivation in doing evangelism is how deeply we are struck and gripped by how much good news the gospel is.
Many folk have said that the song for the conference and the song that in many ways sums up the conference is in Christ Alone and I very much agree. But a song that I have listened to a few times since the conference is the hymn "It is well with my Soul". I recognise that the hymn was written by a man in far worse circumstances that I have ever yet to experience but the following verse struck me in particular:
I'd prefer the word truth to the word 'thought' but never the less it sums up some of what I thinking and feeling since the conference. Jesus paid the penalty for my sin through His death on the cross. This changes everything in this life and the next. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul!
My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul!