There was a time when such a heading would refer to Exeter City and their brief dalliance with non-league football. But no, this past two weeks I have spent three days at two different conferences, which plays havoc on the time for leadership and preaching preparation as Sunday still rolls round regardless.
It was the first time I had attended the (or any) Pastoral Refreshment Conference and it was a conference like no other I've been to. Very relaxed, great food and accommodation, very friendly people and some very simple and yet powerful talks by Dick Dowsett, a former missionary in China and the Philippines. Boy, did he have some stories, which he interspersed with his series of expositions of Philippians. My friend John Risbridger did a great job of preaching at the communion service too and as I left I reflected that next week's conference had a lot to live up to.
I spent this week in okay accommodation, with excellent food, friendly people, and it was very nearly as relaxed. The key difference for me was that the talks, whilst theologically solid approached things quite differently. I think a lot (too much?) was assumed as read and so the main sessions were ones where the Bible was referenced but never opened. This is really odd to me with my background. It was a pleasure to open the Bible on the last session and be challenged as we read it together about speaking the truth in love to one another. At which point I resolved to change my mind and to fill in a feedback form after all!
It just seems to me that while I can get all kinds of good and valuable insight from people who are clearly far more intelligent than I am, what I really need is eternal wisdom and the book that I need to focus on in that is the Bible. To some outside the church that might seem bizarre but the more I read it the more I realise I need to read it.