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11 May 2008

Roots Review

Slightly belatedly, here's my thoughts on the Roots conference last weekend.

In the week prior to going, we had to ask a question of the Roots team. We'd been browsing the event guide on the website, and noticed that the evening celebrations would finish at 9:30, but the creche finished at 9. Now, we're not the type of parents who want our kids looked after all the time and its great to share in worship as a family, but for the evening session, its nice to get some time as a couple to worship, reflect and respond without having to worry about the kids. This timing looked like parents wouldn't be able to respond so that they weren't late for picking the kids up. So we simply asked the question ... why? We had an almost immediate response telling us that following 2007 feedback, it was decided to give the Big Top (main venue) evening celebration an extra half hour but that they couldn't give more time to the kids programmes so they compromised with the plan that the final half hour would be additional time if needed and that appeals etc would be concluded by 9. An interesting plan open to problems, but, if you are going to allow the Holy Spirit to be free in the worship, then any plan is open to problems so we accepted the answer and settled back to enjoy the weekend again. So, here's the weekend summary from my point of view.

We were picked up in the Corps minibus soon after 10 and got loaded up. The 10 of us from Glenrothes (inc 3 children!) were travelling down together to cut costs and to have fun from the moment we left to the moment we returned. We had a great journey down and the kids were great - we'd expected to stop loads but got away with 2 stops so that helped. We arrived at our B&B of 4 years and panicked the owners mum who helps out. She's great and we'll admit to taking the mickey a tad, but she does have her funny ways!!! Anyway, I think all of us, taking 4 rooms, arriving at once, was a bit much especially as there were 3 children and associated luggage to cope with! It all ended with me getting a bit stressed - something thats been happening a bit much lately - but Carol-Anne kept me right! We abandoned stuff in our rooms and headed off to check in, have a quick look around, get a bit of food, then before too long it was time to find the creche, which due to problems in Southport, had to be moved quite late and ended up on the third floor of a hotel with a small lift! We all joined up again in the Big Top for the first session. I took this session to chill out so didn't really get into the worship straight away - that was down to me not the worship leader - but I did appreciate what was going on... it really helped. The speaker was Lyndall Bywater, the prayer co-ordinator for TSA. I've known Lyndall for a long time and its always a pleasure to hear her preach - tonight was no different. She spoke with great authority, timely humour, and strong challenge. She was slightly upstaged at one point by Hugo, her guide dog, but that just added to the greatness of the message. Left the big top feeling happier and relaxed. (Incidentally, the additional half hour wasn't used tonight so there was no issue with having to leave early). We all headed back to the B&B via the Kebab/Pizza place.

Woke in enough time to get ready for one of the highlights of the Roots experience - the full breakfast in our B&B! They did us proud again! Duly filled up, we headed off to the Big Top for the morning Bible Study to be led by Jeff Lucas. I love listening to Jeff as he presents the message in a lighthearted way but still manages to press home key points and leave strong challenges. This morning was no exception. The studies were looking at Elijah in 1 Kings 17-18 and many words were speaking straight to my heart.

After lunch, C-A and Kathryn headed back to the B&B for a sleep and I took Hannah for a walk and to have a chill out. Headed round the resource zone and picked up Jeff Lucas's book "Going Public - The life and times of Elijah" (will blog on this at a later date). Also got a free Study book on Philippians. Headed out into the sunshine having grabbed a Chai Tea latte from the organic drinks stand and settled back to read my new book. Really lifted by the book which was talking straight to me. The wind got up a bit so headed back into the resource zone for Hannah's sake, got another drink (well they were only £1!), and read some more. Eventually met up with the girls for an ice cream then later, with all the Glenrothes gang, headed to Nandos.

For the evening, we had had thoughts of not going but glad we did. Nims Obunge from the Peace Alliance was the speaker and wow, what a passionate speaker he was. Really uplifted and challenged through him. Tonight though, the extra half hour was taken and parents had to leave before the end. It was my turn and felt like a naughty school boy being asked to leave the room. Tried not to let it spoil the message that was still ringing in my ears from Pastor Obunge. Headed back to the B&B.

Woke more reluctantly today! Still enjoyed breakfast, then headed off via creche to another good Bible Study. Chilled out back at the B&B over lunchtime then went back to see what was going on with a public festival/fun time. The SA area was being opened up to the Southport public and it was good to see so many people come in despite the showery weather. Kathryn had some fun on a bouncy castle then I headed off with the other Glenrothes guys to meet with some Aberdeen guys for a go-karting session. It was really great to chill out and have some real fun on the track. Ate at Frankie & Bennies tonight - Chiquitos (offering 15% discount to Roots delegates) was way too busy - shame.

Kathryn wasn't 100% so we kept her with us for the evening rather than run the risk of getting called out to fetch her from creche early. The speaker tonight was the highly rated Shane Claiborne but I never made it to him - at least not mentally and certainly not spiritually. Kathryn just wasn't for settling and C-A was already walking around with Hannah! Will have to get the recording of Shanes message as apparently it was spot on. I think I got even more frustrated as it was looking clearer that I wasn't going to get to the after hours praise party which is always a highlight for me. Watched as again parents were invited to leave, then headed off for a slow trudge back to the B&B with Kathryn. Not a good end to my day.

Woke still feeling grumpy. We packed up the minibus then I headed off on my own to the Bible Study as the others were having a chill out morning. Felt I needed to go and was right. Took loads of notes as I found myself in one of those meetings where you feel the speaker is speaking just to you. Felt real peace in my heart - and not before time!!!! Finished up and headed over to Starbucks to meet with the girls and the rest of the Glenrothes gang before returning to the big top for the final celebration where finally, I really connected with the worship and also enjoyed the final challenge delivered by Phil Wall.

So, over all, a mixed bag of a weekend but the positives do outweigh the negatives. I have come away feeling stronger, more at peace and, as challenged by Jeff Lucas, I left my guilt and shame in the Big Top and will carry them no longer - why should I? - God's has taken them away ... they are no longer mine to deal with - its done, forgotten - I am a new creation in Christ. In some respects it did feel like the Roots team had kind of given up as they're not there next year, but I think part of that came as the result of location problems due to a wave of construction work in Southport. It is good to reflect and I pray God's blessing on the Roots team as they do just that, and prepare for something different in 2010.

As always, it was good to meet up with friends from around the Salvation Army world, to renew acquaintances, and build new ones. I do feel better for it and have continued to carry this new peace in my heart through into my work in this last week. All I can say is that its working so far!


Johnny said...

Really good to see you guys at Roots.

J :-)

caldjr said...

great to see you too Johnny. Will keep you posted on our developments