PJ: What is the value of a church weekend away?
Ian: I think the value of a church weekend is three things: First, it’s about friendship. We don’t just have 20 minutes at the end of a service we actually have a weekend to get to know some of those people. The second thing is that it’s to do with listening. We have an opportunity to listen to God outside of the normal confines of our environment. And the third thing is that it’s about vision. Because I’ve often found in my experience as a church leader those things that we’ve been reaching towards have crystallised... and we’ve seen the next step on the journey.
PJ: What are your hopes for our weekend away in September?
Ian: The prayer that I always pray... is that God would equip me in order that the words that come are not my words but God’s words. And the safety of that is that we’re coming from Scripture. I always pray that God would prepare people so that they are ready to listen. But I also ask that God would allow some of those moments to come, where we end up in conversations that are just a small spontaneous moment of God, where we open up about something, where we share with someone a need, they pray for us, something is said as a word of encouragement or affirmation... where we are perhaps walking on our own or talking with a friend, and the Lord Jesus draws close to us and we hear him speaking.
PJ: What would you say to someone who is in two minds about coming?
Ian: I just feel that often in church generally, we come in, we have the service, we maybe chat for a few minutes and we go out. And our relationships become terribly superficial. And the value of this weekend at Ashburnham, is that it’s an opportunity to go deeper – deeper with God, but deeper with each other - and away from the normal pressures of a weekend at home and all the things we’re trying to fit in. Here’s an opportunity for space, to reflect and to relax and to be together with God.