I’ve had a pretty amazing weekend at the ROMBS (Reaching Out in Mind Body Spirit) conference, put together by Steve Hollinghurst and held at Wilson Carlisle Centre in Sheffield. Essentially this was a conference for Christian working in the world of MBS and new spiritualities.
As I’ve said above …. the conference was amazing. This is a collection of people that are all working from the same premise and simply get each other. This was a collection of people who work ‘on the edge’ and seek to help people connect with the God who created them. Clearly, this is a group of people who I feel I fit with and who are pretty inspirational in the way and the things they use as they try to connect with a variety of spiritual seekers.
One of the best things about this conference, as is the case with all good conferences, was the time devoted to conversations over coffee or in the bar during the evening. I always learn from up front presenters …. but I feel I am inspired more in those coffee/beer/whisky laced conversations as we pull apart thoughts and questions.
On the first evening we looked at statistics and contextualisation. This was a lot better than it sounds, although I struggle with stats at the best if times. It is great, though, to start by looking at the context and trends of where we are at …. in my experience too often the church seems to neglect this vital bit of questioning and just does what she thinks is ok and right.
On saturday I was blown away by Ole Skjerbæk Madsen, of In the Master’s Light as he spoke about Christfullness, which he defines as being ‘filled, saturated, surrounded by and drenched in Christ’. Ole talks about this here. I simply loved that image because that captures, I think, what many people are looking for. Maybe people are not specifically looking for Christ … but they are looking for something that totally captures, surrounds, saturates and drenches them. I think this is a different expression of John Drane’s thoughts last week when he was challenging us to think about ‘how do we make people feel so much that they can’t help thinking’. Being drenched in Christ certainly means we are able to feel …. and want to ask!
Other highlights of the weekend seem to revolve around meeting up with old friends or linking with new ones. Highlights included catching up with Andrea over Ruach, hearing more of Diana’s story in Glastonbury and Ruth’s story in Liverpool … matt’ story with Forest Church … and Martin’s story with Viking re-enactment. It was a packed weekend so I may have some of those names wrong … apologies if that is so!
The challenging / comfort zone issue for me was attending a session on how to use Tarot cards in a Christian setting. I got a great insight into how the cards developed and may be used in helpful ways. This was fascinating …. but those readers of mine who are having extreme worries about my spirituality … please remember …. this was a conference held at Church Army headquarters and headed up by a great Church Army guy. They are pretty ‘solid’ …. so if you don’t trust me you clearly know it is ok to trust them!
If I went with anything, it was a question that goes something like … ‘at the boot fair we have connected with all these people … is it right we just stop and wait until next year’s boot fair dates are out …. or is there something we can offer that may open up different spiritual paths’ That was my question and I am coming way with some areas of thought.
One particular suggestion worth exploring is the nature of follow up in ‘days’ or ‘events’ rather than the traditional course type . It’s easy to say that we need to provide something for every week … when the reality is that people may still only wish to dip in and out.
So …. the weekend was great, I felt I gained a lot from just being part of many conversations with great people. We ended our time together with a Forest Church communion lead by Steve and Diana. Al I can say is this was an incredibly real and moving experience and something I really genuinely resonated with.
To Steve as organiser and others as participants …. thank you.