The Conversational God

Conference on the Bible, Relationships & Social Transformation

Cambridge, 9th – 11th September 2019

There is a growing movement of people who are convinced that one of the main ways God’s people should be salt and light is by seeking to transform relationships in society – in public as well as private life.  This movement has been shaped particularly by the Jubilee Centre and Relationships Foundation in Cambridge, and it is nourished by an annual gathering of ‘relational thinkers’ from around the world.  Two events will run back to back in Cambridge from 9th-13th September 2019.

Jubilee Centre’s conference, ‘The Conversational God,’ provides an opportunity for Christians to deepen their understanding of God’s intentions for relationships by exploring different genres in the Bible to discover relational patterns and norms.  Participants will share lessons and experiences of applying these ideas to institutions in different spheres of society internationally. The conference concludes with several options for visiting sights in Cambridge so participants can build their own relationships together.

Part 1: Exploring relational norms in scripture

(Monday 9th & morning of Tuesday 10th September)

An earlier event in the Jubilee Lounge

The Bible is a relational book, but how do we know what godly relations look like in different interactions and relationships in public as well as private life?  God speaks authoritatively but his intention is that right and good relationships should develop and thrive; God wants the world to respond to his word and his conversation.

We will develop the practice of ‘Relational Reading’ (a careful study of relationships in the biblical text together with others in a small group) over six sessions, which will focus on these major biblical genres: Torah, history, wisdom literature, prophets, gospels, epistles.  Each session will be broken up into presentation + Q&A, followed by small group discussion. 

The purpose will be to consider the following questions for each section of the Bible:

  • Which relationships between individuals and/or between groups, cities or nations, are particularly visible in this genre/epoch? 
  • What is this genre particularly concerned about within those relationships?  What is revealed as godly and relational, and what is the opposite?
  • What does this tell us about which relationships are most significant, and how God intends them to work?
  • How could this impact the way God’s people relate today in all spheres of life?

The role of the Church.  In Matthew 5 the disciples were given two metaphors to shape their witness to the world. As salt, they were to engage directly with the institutions of society to resist corruption, add flavor and promote healing. As light, they were to reveal God’s truth by living out a biblical counter-culture before a watching world.  Followers of Jesus today need to learn how to relate well as a community, as this is a vital part of their call to disciple the nations. 

Crucially this doesn’t just mean demonstrating how to enact spiritual disciplines personally and corporately, but also all the things we share with people of other faiths or none: how to do family, how to do lending, how to run businesses, how to do housing, how to do gender relations, how to do reconciliation, how to welcome the stranger, how to do possessions, how to do welfare, how to do justice, how to do government etc.

As the sessions develop and participants become familiar with discerning relational truth, we will start to explore some principles, values and best practices for how the Church corporately (as congregations, denominations and Christian networks or organisations) can model God’s relational priorities in different areas of public life.

Part 2: Lessons from different global contexts

(Afternoon of Tuesday 10th & morning of Weds 11th September)

The second part of the conference will explore some of the challenges that must be faced when seeking to put relational ideas into practice in different global contexts.  What are the objections and relational difficulties we come up against, and how can we deal with them?

The sessions in part 2 will involve a mix of small group discussion and presentation.  Each session will focus on a particular sector on a different continent. To introduce the discussion and help apply our Relational Reading from the first part, a presenter will identify the main relevant relationships in the specific context.  After small group discussion, the presenter will describe what they see as happening relationally in the context.  The purpose of each session is to encourage fresh application of our reading as well as learn from experiences in different nations.

Practical Details

  • Venue:  The Jubilee Centre, 59 St Andrews Street, Cambridge CB2 3BZ
  • Cost: £65 for the three days, including refreshments and a light lunch
  • Speakers: including Martin Goldsmith, Anthony Billington, Elizabeth Robar, Dale Kuehne, Rob Loe, Ralph Lee, Cosma Gatere, Peter Hsu
  • Participant numbers: Up to 25 in the Jubilee Lounge; if more participants register, we will relocate to Wesley Methodist Church nearby
  • Accommodation: We are not able to provide any accommodation and we recommend you look for somewhere on AirBnB, Booking.com or the University accommodation service
  • Related event.  Participants are encouraged to register also for the Relational Thinking Conference on 12th-13th September, organized by our colleagues at Relationships Foundation, for a wider secular audience.
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Category: Events

July, 2019

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