We have had several “Mini-Conferences” at the River Lodge in New Zealand, and we’ve discovered this may be one of the most powerful events we have ever experienced...
Our “Mini-Conferences” involve 40 people arriving on a Friday afternoon and staying at the Lodge through Sunday noon—“40 people for 40 hours”—sequestered in a private rural setting. It’s intimate, personal, and, apparently, very life changing.
The Agapé Weekend
One of these was an “Agapé Weekend” for married couples, with both Nan and I sharing how God—through the entire Word of God—uses the marriage to communicate the concept of intimacy, not just for the husband and wife, but for the believer with God Him-self.
No exploration of the marriage would be complete without including a review of the Song of Songs, one of the most controversial books in the Bible. So we included an experiment on Saturday evening, using a “Libretto for Four Voices,” the Song of Songs adapted from the International Standard Version (ISV) as the script for a participative “radio play.” The four voices were Solomon, Shulamit (the “Cinderella” of the piece), the Daughters of Jerusalem (a chorus to reflect the social milieu) and myself as the Narrator/Stage Manager.
Couples among the group volunteered to read various “reflections” which demarcate the different segments of the book. Much to everyone’s relief, it all seemed to work quite well. In fact, this weekend may prove to be one of the most popular of the programs to be presented at the River Lodge in the months ahead.
Strategic Perspectives Conferences
We were joined by Ron Matsen and his family from Portsmouth, U.K., to assist us in upgrading the video and acoustics in our conference room, and we took ad-vantage of him to present some insightful perspectives of Europe as we improvised a modest “Strategic Perspectives Conference” at the River Lodge.
Here again we found it remarkably intimate and impacting—far more than the usual presentation environments. There were plenty of casual “question and answer” opportunities with feedback from the participants. It was so quickly overbooked that we added a second one on an additional available weekend.
The Kingdom, Power, and GloryIn response to a number of requests, we are doing a conference on the subjects in our most recent book, The Kingdom, Power & Glory, September 2-4, 2011. This will be focused on a broadly overlooked perspective on the coming Kingdom and will include explorations of eternal security, inheritance and rewards, the “Bema Seat,” and becoming an “overcomer.”
We were quite gratified that the feedback on both the content of the conferences and also on the hospitality of the Lodge: both were given high marks. The River Lodge has a 30-year history and many Kiwis (New Zealanders) have fond memories of previous visits over the years.
What surprised us about these mini-conferences was that people came from a much broader reach than we had anticipated. Over half of the attendees drove more than three hours: from Auckland (3 hours), Wellington (5 hours), Hamilton (2 hours), as well as most of the cities in the North Island. (The lake regions around Rotorua and Taupo are only half an hour away.)
In fact, we had a number come from the South Island (Christchurch) as well as Melbourne and Sydney in Australia (which they regarded as “just a short hop away”).
Their willingness to spend the money (and their time) for these intensive events has caused us to re-think some of our scheduling for 2012, which, in itself, will prove to be an eventful year. Our ability to capture and distribute timely recordings should also improve as we gain experience with this venue.
We will, of course, be planning well ahead and will keep you informed—in exchange for your continued prayers for this emerging ministry!