How's Your Heart for Jesus? Need an ECG?
Standing looking out over a calm and clear Llandudno bay, as the sun was setting, the sense of the unknown was prevalent in my mind. We, the ECG executive, had been part of countless similar events and yet this felt quite unique. There was no one else to look up to, no one else in charge, the sense of accountability, responsibility and trust rested here. I felt an inward thought become an outward prayer, “Lord unless this is Yours and You are in it, we can have the best building blocks of a conference but none of it will matter, unless You turn up.”
We were minutes away from the eve of a vision and call that had begun in infancy two years earlier. The family and I walked the short distance to Venue Cymru and as we arrived the centre buzzed with happy expectant folk meeting and greeting each other. After seeing the kids to their club I made my way to the theatre, I could hear yfriday had already begun. To say I felt some sense of anticipation was somewhat of an understatement. It was as though as chefs we’d poured a labour of love into a superb meal and then we were waiting with baited breath to see what response our guest would make of the taste and tenor of the food…
I entered the theatre and walked into a wall of worship. The sense of God’s manifest presence was instantaneous. I knew there and then that the week would go well. God, by His amazing grace, inhabited the praises of His people. There were no warm up songs - a slow let’s get going atmosphere - but spontaneous, heart-felt-praise belting out to Jesus our risen Saviour.
I, like you, have been to many conferences over the years where we hope somewhere in the week to go deeper in worship, to transcendent moments where heaven and earth are so close that God’s Spirit breaths a myriad of transformations through our lives and we are forever changed. ‘ECG-A Heart for the Nations’ had begun with God’s bang. It was as if something in the heavenly realm had been torn open and God had released freedom in the worship which uninhibited engaged His people in their lives.
All week this happened. So many people at different times commented on how God was moving them on in their journey, challenging one or another aspect of their life. Clive and Ruth Calver had graciously agreed to lead the weeks Bible Study and speak in the celebrations and said of the worship and yfriday, “It was very reminiscent of Graham Kendrick or Noel Richards at their very best. Rarely has a better platform of worship been constructed for Ruth and I to preach from!” Ken Riley lead guitar and vocalist of yfriday said “It was fantastic to see people encountering God in new ways. I could see people who at first would gingerly dip a toe, move into the shallows and then head for the mighty deep. I think something was awakened at ECG, in a generation who can be grace, understanding and love, where strangers can belong and a sense of Acts 2 finds meaning in our 21st Century churches. This excites me.”
The E of ECG stands for Equipping and there is no better equipping than the Holy Spirit. It is not just about a spiritual experience but a spiritual engagement. It is a transformational encounter, inspiring Christological change within us. ECG encouraged this encounter outside in the community as well, through several community acts of kindness. Working in partnership with the local churches and other organisations around Llandudno this is to be a major part of ECG’s focus.
Over two hundred people from ECG this year took part in the afternoons, painting, gardening, doing DIY, making crafts, and talking to folk on the streets answering their questions about why we were doing these acts of kindness. This simple form of mission and evangelism is so effective. Demonstrating the love of Christ Jesus in our communities in a visible way attracts interest. All my experience of running this sort of thing back in the North East has proved it has transformed communities, churches and individuals perceptions of mission. If I heard this said once I heard it numerous times, “I cannot believe how easy it was…it was nowhere near as hard as I thought it was going to be to talk to people and say … ‘God’s love has made such a difference in my life I wanted to do this for the community to bless them.’”
With these acts of kindness ECG wanted to both bless Llandudno whilst being there and inspire and equip more and more Christians with a vision to take back home and put into practise there. Inspiring a prophetic church to build a better world is not a one week wonder but persistent, patient, perseverance in our day by day lives and cultures to present Jesus through our deeds and words.
This is about ‘Calling’. Hearing what God is doing and ‘Going’ to join in. For too long we have been too much of a ‘come to us church’ and ECG hears a call to redress that balance to be a going people, making the most of everyday opportunities which the Spirit presents.
Equipping, Calling and Going summarised in our logo ECG are all made up of single dots grouped together. This was to symbolise and represent the informal networks of support and encouragement we hope to facilitate over time in collaboration with other organisations. Pioneering missional work amongst those who do not know Jesus is demanding. Whether we are trying to be church, as fresh expression or inherited church, the participants and leadership all need encouragement and support. ECG the network longs to see people connected through the year, sharing ideas, praying for each other and perhaps even ministering to each other in the harder times. Genuine and mutual accountability that comes from outside the situations, out of affirming relationships, is part of the reason ECG has come into being.
We stand on the shoulders of giants in the faith and hold a vision and call to enable this generation to raise up and disciple the next generation in Christ, whatever age they may be! Come and help us.
The Revd Stephen Lindridge is Evangelism Enabler for the Newcastle upon Tyne District and one of the four ECG Exec.
ECG a Heart for the Nations 14-19th April 2009
More details at http://www.ecgevent.org.uk/ecgabout.html
Bookings online http://www.nxtshop.org.uk/ecg-2009-8-c.asp
metconnexion, Summer 2008, pp.11-12