Nick Sharp at Mobilise
This weekend I went to the Mobilise student workers conference and had a great time. I love hanging out with old friends and making new friends at these events and the student worker weekend has given me a fine bunch of guys and girls to become friends with and steal ideas from.
This weekends high point was the Saturday night preach/talk/comedy from Nick Sharp. Nick planted and now leads Grace Church Nottingham. His talk was characterised by some stunning honesty. At one point Nick explained that his church was NOT the best church in Nottingham and the reason for that was that he was NOT the best church leader in Nottingham. Brilliant.
He talked about his early days in Nottingham and the difficulties he faced in church planting. In particular he talked about how he got caught up in triumphalism, for example “we are going to to take our city for Jesus” or “we are taking our city for Jesus” and also with the constant discussion of numbers of people in churches (something I am VERY guilty of).
Nick was very funny and very challenging. His honesty was utterly disarming and entirely convicting. When things are going well, and currently we are experiencing some momentum and growth, it easy to get caught up the moment and stray into triumphalism which, as Nick pointed out, does not help anyone.
Nick used a good analogy when describing our triumphalism. When talking about church planting or growing church we often use army or war metaphors but they are often like a cavalry sweeping across a sunlight plain towards a weak and stupid enemy. He claimed the reality was far more like fighting door to door in Iraq against a well organised enemy that you can barely see and your only concern is to get home unharmed.
I am not a fan of Christians using war and army pictures to describe church life as most of us have no idea of what it means to be in an army let alone a war. Nick, however, used to be in the Parachute Regiment so he can pretty much say what he likes.