There was almost a sense of exuberant excitement as the Solas team headed North for our first major in-person evangelism conference in almost two years. For those of us involved in this ministry it has been a very long lockdown! Our hosts for Confident Christianity in Aberdeen were Sheddocksley Baptist Church and their pastor, Simon Dennis. The day was livestreamed too, for those as yet unable to attend live events.
Simon welcomed everyone, and gave us in a thoughtful devotional talk before a beautiful time sung worship.
The speaking team that Solas assembled for the day featured Andy Bannister, Sharon Dirckx, and Michael Ots. They are all seasoned communicators of the Christian faith with much to teach us; but while they are united in a common faith, they also have specific specialisms which they brought to the day as well.
Andy Bannister begun the day with a lively talk on sharing Christ in the workplace; which is a specially adapted and applied session on the principles of conversational evangelism on which he is currently writing a book.
Michael Ots asked us – as the church – to think through the challenges and opportunities that the Covid-crisis presents us with in terms of evangelism. While recognising the weakness of much of the church today and the problems of transmitting the gospel in a socially-distanced world, Michael urged us to see that many are hungry for community, hospitality and hope that outlasts death; all things the church can offer in abundance.
Sharon Dirckx drew not just on her faith, but on her scientific career in research into the human brain for her first talk. Examining the naturalist claim that we are merely biological machines, she argued that the mind is more than the brain and that the Bible’s view of humanity is richer and more dignified than the alternatives; basically because it is true! The Bible’s view of what it means to be human is a powerful apologetics for the Christian faith and Sharon is a great advocate for it.
After lunch, Andy Bannister asked us to think about the differences between the Qur’an’s view of God and the Biblical idea of God. Drawing deeply from the scriptures of both faiths as well as Christian and Muslim scholars; Andy showed that the differences are profound! God is relational, knowable, loving and acquainted with suffering. This he said should compel Christians to lovingly compel Christians to share their faith in Christ with their Muslim friends and neighbours.
Michael Ots has spent a lot of time thinking about how we reach the apathetic. That is, not those who have well-articulated or hostile atheist convictions – but those who appear bored by Christian claims. In his second talk, filled with examples from the UK, Denmark and Eastern Europe Michael showed us how to bridge from what matters to people (love, human rights, the environment) to Christian beliefs.
Sharon Dirckx then helped us to respond to the greatest objection of all to Christian faith: the problem of pain. In a journey that began with the biblical figure of Job and ended with the sufferings of Jesus, Sharon made us consider a God who is good, who redeems, is present and who at the cross has tasted pain.
The Q&A session, which Simon Dennis chaired gave everyone the chance to fire their questions in to Andy, Michael and Sharon. It was a lively session which picked up on many of the talks, workplace evangelism, Islam, suffering and science! Everyone who signed up to get Solas’s news and prayer letter will be receiving the speaker’s slides from the day – plus some extra resources around the themes that came up in the Q&A.
We are grateful to Simon Dennis and Sheddocksley Baptist Church for being gracious and excellent hosts. It was good to meet people from all kinds of different churches and house-fellowships there too. Thanks too to all those people who came to Confident Christianity, who worshipped God alongside us; engaged and thought with us, asked questions, and signed up to support and pray for Solas.
It really was great to be about with people again. If you would like to help bring a Confident Christianity conference to your city, town or village – please do get in touch through our contact page.