In a first for Solas, we were invited to lead a full Confident Christianity conference entirely online, in partnership with Hereford Baptist Church, Putson Baptist and Ross Baptist churches. We do understand why other churches have opted to postpone their conferences until after the pandemic; but it was great to see what we could manage together via the internet. John & Steve from Hereford Baptist hosted the day with great warmth and enthusiasm, while Solas’ Tim Allyn handled production duties which was no small task with hosts and a band in Hereford, and speakers in Dundee, London and Belfast!
Confident Christianity conferences exist to help Christians to speak more naturally, faithfully and winsomely about Jesus with their friends, colleagues and neighbours – and are always partnerships between local churches and Solas. These conferences always contain a devotional element, because genuine mission always flows out of worship. They also contain some helpful training in conversation and communication. Andy Bannister’s talk “How to talk about Jesus without looking like an idiot” is a crash-course in conversational evangelism, and he presented a new updated version of this talk at the Hereford conference.
Solas associate Kristi Mair took the second session of the day, and opened up the whole area of post-truth. She examined the contemporary cynicism about truth, and explored ways in which Christians can confidently, yet wisely, handle God’s truth in our context today.
Of course, we know that when we don’t hide our faith – but talk openly about it people raise objections. So in Confident Christianity conferences we like to look at common objections to our faith and think about how we might address them. Solas speaker Gareth Black did exactly that around the question of suffering. While not trivialising the experience of suffering, Gareth looked at the total inadequacy of Atheist responses to it, and the hope that can be found in Jesus in the middle of a broken world. Hope in Christ is not a delusion, unlike the false hopes offered by the world.
Andy Bannister led the final session of the morning, looking at the whole question of human value and dignity. His talk entitled “Are we matter or do we matter?” explored the unique way in which the Christian faith explains the value of humanity, from creation in God’s image to salvation in Jesus.
After the lunch break Gareth pulled all the various strands of the conference together with an inspiring message about the parable of the talents, and God’s calling and equipping for mission. Then John from Hereford chaired a lively time of Q&A, in which the Solas team fielded questions on things such as sharing the gospel with Muslim friends, communicating truth to people who are relativists, the Holocaust and human evil, processing the failures of the church, developing an inviting culture in the Christian community, the hiddenness of God, Genesis, science and evolution. Contextualising the gospel, and how to make the first steps in representing Jesus at school, work and home.
The Solas team loved working with the guys from Hereford! Kristi Mair said, “It was a delight to be involved in the Confident Christianity conference in Hereford. The host church did an excellent job of facilitating the day, and we were thrilled to be able to engage with such thoughtful questions. I came away from the day giving great thanks to the Lord. At a time when in person events are not possible, this conference reminded me of the distinct privilege it is to be able to encourage each other through online training days such as these.”
Andy Bannister commented, “The Confident Christianity Conference Hereford Baptist with Putson and Ross Baptist Churches too) was the first time Solas had tried an online version of our popular apologetics conference and we were thrilled how well it went. We had a lively, engaged audience (who submitted some brilliant questions in the Q&A). Video conference meant we could bring together a fantastic team from across the country, which let us tackle a range of crucial topics — from practical stuff on how to share your faith more naturally to key topics like suffering, truth, and atheism. The key organising church were incredibly positive and have already invited Solas back for an in person event next year!
Gareth Black seemed to have enjoyed the experience too – his first online Solas conference! We had hundreds of views online, on Facebook and YouTube, and really good engagement via Pigeonhole in the final hour long session of Q&A. The questions were insightful, profound and pastorally significant too. Obviously people were wrestling with doubts and with reconciling their faith with some of the arguments they have heard from friends. Others were looking for practical advice on how to actually get going in everyday evangelism. The Hereford churches were lovely to work with and really ought to be commended for their vision, and courage in doing the conference this way. All in all it was a great day, the church seemed to be encouraged and we were able to show that Jesus and his gospel is credible and reliable; and that personal confidence in Him can spill-over into effective communication of that faith in really persuasive, meaningful and respectful ways among non-Christian friends. I was really grateful to be part of it.
However, we’ll leave the final word to pastor Steve Ansell of Hereford Baptist. “Working with Solas has been an absolute delight and I am so glad we decided to continue with hosting the Confident Chritianity Conference virtually. Though technically challenging, with wonderful support from Solas’ Tim Allyn, the conference ran seamlessly. Andy, Kristi and Gareth were inspiring speakers and we hope this is the beginning of a fruitful ongoing relationship. A massive thank you to everyone at Solas”
If you would like to find out more about bringing a Confident Christianity conference to your church or town, either in-person or online. Click here. We’d love to help!