As a participant at the Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit at Kings Park in February, I was glad to have such high quality teaching resources.

As a minister who trained at a Pentecostal Bible college, I was already steeped in the working and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, so I can attest to the fact that we, as a student body, were well and truly “apprenticed” in things of the Spirit with sound theology.

What I lacked despite my background I found at Kings Park: theology that was not only sound, but tested and presented in a clear and consistent manner and in a form easily transferable to a congregation that is prepared and ready to explore. That is what we are now doing in my Baptist Church.

Kings Park Centre, Northampton

I must confess that I am not a fan of small group work! In my experience it can turn into a group therapy session with one or two having all the answers. Bah Humbug!

But this was not the case at the Growing the Church gathering! Andrew, our group facilitator, was great–obviously passionate and well versed in the art of facilitating.

I was blessed by the total of six hours we spent in small group work throughout the course of the event. Time well spent.

We also had plenty of time for solo prayer. I must admit, I found myself flagging and spent most of my solo time in my room sleeping, usually falling asleep while reading through the notes of the day and finding myself waking with a start!

Having said that, the groups of intercessors who had responsibility for prayer carried me through. Prayer played an enormous role in the whole event: it was soaked in prayer, which helped no end to make it what it was.

Lots of prayer was offered and received throughout the week, especially in the designated prayer space set in a separate room.

Worship was great. There was no show and no performance, just an invitation to encounter God in a safe space.

I enjoyed the freedom of not having to be concerned about the order of things and just worshiping. Everyone was open to the spirit, and I had a number of encounters with God on a personal level which helped me enormously.

The debriefing (a time of reviewing and discussing the events of each session) was excellent. We had an opportunity to think about the sessions and then ask questions or make observations, which was most helpful.

This is definitely something I will be looking to introduce in my own church in the future.

I was challenged in my own view of the Holy Spirit and by the possibility of implementing the Growing the Church approach in my own congregation. I remember hearing Ralph Neighbour teach about introducing new things into a local church and three things he said stand out to me: 1. Go slow, 2. Go slow, and 3. Go slow. Introducing new things to a church body is all about timing and all about prayer.

One of the keys to receiving/experiencing the Holy Spirit is to ask. I think it would have been helpful if we could have had a time when we gave an opportunity for folks to be encouraged to ask for and allow specific gifts of the Spirit to manifest.

If a delegate felt they would like to use the gift of prophecy, for example, they could have asked and tested it “in the moment”. How else could we do it? It is not likely that we will ask and receive in private while on our own.

Who would “weigh” the veracity of such a gift? It is also unlikely that, if we had never exercised the gift of prophecy, we would feel confident enough to speak out in prophecy in our churches or other open meeting. How would this work?

I don’t know, but we need to move from knowing about the gifts in an intellectual way to knowing them in the same way that Paul and others “knew” them: by experiencing them.

I would encourage anyone who is looking to develop the life of their church with an eye to including more lay people in the work of the church to consider the Growing the Church course. It was well worth it!

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