I've just come back from 10 days in Africa, where I was serving in my role as 'Operations Director' for our international Salt & Light family of churches, at our biannual conference, this time in Nairobi, Kenya. I've seen again the value of diversity, which is what this blog is about! For more on what I learned from the conference, read my blog a few days ago.
I came up to Oxford in 1985. At the time there was little in the way of charismatic, Holy-Spirit-filled life in the church. St Aldates at the time was led by Michael Green (now an elder-statesman in the church, who we are delighted is coming to speak at OCC in the autumn) - one had to queue for entry, such was the level of excitement as Michael led the church in the life of the Holy Spirit. There was a small charismatic house church somewhere in Botley, and an odd, itinerant and therefore hard-to-track-down group of Christians called Oxford Community Church.
Over the summer one of the students - Pip - was camping with my family, while he and they served together in the 7-11s kids work at our UK summer camp. Amidst gunge-tanks, sore muscles and tiredness, Pip and I had a conversation about being a student movement. What on earth do we mean? And how does it differ from a network, denomination or simply the whole global church?
In Mark 3, we read about Jesus calling the twelve disciples. Verse 14 reads (emphasis added):
He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
In our understanding, that's the heart of discipleship: we want to be 'with Jesus' and we want to be sent by Him.