Summer in the city – 30 years of the Evangelical Ministry Assembly


EMA summer in the city

It’s now well established as an annual feature in the ministerial calendar. But why do people keep coming? EN asked a few regulars.

Simon is a youth worker at an Anglican church in Kent. He first attended the EMA in 2005.

‘It’s important as youth workers that we don’t only attend conferences that teach us how to do youth work. We need to be fed by faithful, passionate Bible teaching, as do all those who minister God’s word, and EMA provides an excellent forum for this.’

Andy was a church pastor in Bristol, and now serves as a church planting and mission worker. He first attended the EMA in 1999.

‘EMA captures the heart of gospel people, uniting Bible teachers and preachers from both Anglican and Free churches. The stimulus of high quality teaching, along with renewed and broadening friendships, have always refreshed me at the end of a draining year of ministry. Focus is restored and challenges given, ready to be ruminated over during the summer break, preparing one for what the new church / academic year might hold. We need a ‘standard bearing’ event. This is it.’

Mike is an FIEC pastor in Cambridgeshire. He first attended the EMA in 1993.

‘I am immensely grateful to God for the Evangelical Ministry Assembly. Over the years God has used the Assembly to teach, rebuke, correct and train me repeatedly, and, therefore, to equip me for my work. In this way, EMA not only benefits me personally, but also the church I serve. The opportunity to meet with like-minded brothers and sisters is always encouraging. Humanly speaking, I owe the fact that I am still running the race and fighting the fight, with the gospel-centred convictions that I have, in no small part to the EMA.’

Pete is a Grace Baptist pastor in North Essex. He first attended the EMA in 2004.

‘I count it a privilege to sit under the ministry of men who take preaching and teaching the word of God very seriously. Every year I come away sharpened and re-fired to get into the Bible and get the Bible into my people. It’s been great to see an ever widening spectrum of people attending the conference. One of the real blessings of EMA is connecting and sharing with fellow ministers working hard to see Christ’s kingdom established in the hearts and lives of believers and reaching the lost. I’ve never regretted giving up the time to go to EMA. God willing, I’ll be going again this year, at the new venue!’

Matthew is an Anglican minister in deepest Suffolk! He first attended the EMA in 2005.

‘The EMA has always meant great Bible-teaching, excellent coffee and buns, book bargains, singing the Lord’s praises together (and bringing back to church a good new song or two). Coming from Lowestoft up to London, it’s a reminder that the Lord is at work nationally and internationally, across denominations. I catch up with friends in ministry, make new ones, discuss current issues and fresh ideas. It challenges me about my love for the Lord and serving him. I think churches should insist their pastor attends!’

Robin is a Church of Scotland minister in Edinburgh. He first attended the EMA in 2004.

‘One of the real challenges of leadership in the local church is keeping the main thing the main thing. That’s been said a lot, but it’s absolutely true! Evangelism, Bible teaching and prayer are the priorities, but with so many other demands, time given to them can be squeezed. EMA is a timely annual reminder to keep the right focus. As a preacher, the EMA sends me back to the church encouraged to keep preaching central. This encouragement comes from listening to talks about the centrality of preaching and God’s Word, but most of all from listening to good preaching.

‘The mark of a good EMA is returning home wanting to preach what you’ve just heard preached. That’s happened to me a number of times over the years. The timing of EMA is also very important. Coming towards the end of the academic year, it sets me thinking and planning towards the autumn and the next major cycle of church life. And the central London location, makes for easy access.’

Amy is a women’s worker based in central London. She first attended the EMA in 2006.

‘I like coming to the EMA because it’s a great chance to meet up with friends who are in ministry and hear brilliant gospel teaching together; it helps us to encourage one another.’

We asked Adrian Reynolds, Proclamation Trust’s Director of Ministry, what this year’s EMA is about and why it is moving from its regular home at St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, to the Barbican Conference Centre.

‘The EMA this year is, at one level, what it has always been about. There’s no change. We want it to be a three-day conference which encourages and equips expository Bible preachers and teachers. In other words, we hope and pray that delegates will go away strengthened for ministry.

‘However, each year we have a particular focus and this year that focus comes from 1 Peter as we encourage preachers to stay faithful — living and preaching in an alien world.

‘Our morning expositions (led by Vaughan Roberts) will kick us off each day and then we’ve got a mix of sessions exploring this great theme, encouraging, stretching, stimulating and challenging. Other speakers include Dan Strange, Garry Williams, Rico Tice, Paul Mallard and Mark Dever.

‘As for venue, we’ve simply outgrown St. Helen’s. We’re very grateful to them for their generous hospitality but we can’t fit everyone in. Over the last five years we’ve had about 2,500 people at the EMA, but we can only accommodate around 850 at any one time. Moving to the Barbican gives us a lot more space — and not just space to seat people, but breakout, meeting and networking space too; these are essential elements of the EMA.

‘We’ve been able to think more clearly about who the EMA is for. We want to encourage those with an expository teaching ministry in the local church. Primarily this will be pastor-teachers, but we recognise and hope that the conference will be right on target for youth workers, women’s workers, retired (but active) ministers, missionaries and so on.

‘We’d love churches to get behind sending their guys along. Three days in a busy schedule is quite a commitment, especially if you have to travel as well. Why not think, as a church, how you can encourage your church workers to attend? Perhaps it’s a good time to bring home missions workers for a mid-term break? Perhaps you are linked with another local church where a beleaguered minister needs encouragement and your own minister could take him along? Churches have done all of these things in the past and more, and we’re actively encouraging them to do so again. In fact, I was invited along to my first EMA (1994) by the senior minister of my church who saw some potential in me!

‘This is also the first year we’ve had an apprentice rate for those in training. We want those beginning on the journey into ministry to experience and benefit from this key event. Do pray for us as we make this bold move. There’s risk involved, of course, but we believe, under God, that we’re taking a good and positive step as we continue to make the EMA a servant of the local church.’

The 2013 EMA runs from June 24-26, and booking is now open at http://www.ema2013.com

EN spoke to Simon Heather, Andrew Paterson, Mike Kendall, Matthew Payne, Adrian Reynolds, Pete Shirtcliffe, Robin Sydserff and Amy Wicks.

(This article was first published in the March 2013 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, subscribe to EN or contact us for more information.
http://www.e-n.org.uk 0845 225 0057)