What is it to surrender?

22 Nov

This weekend I was at the Youthwork Conference, the theme being about Surrender.
The retreat day, whilst not exactly a retreat, was something I found useful. ;The main meetings were very good on the whole with some very good and thought-provoking talks and a lot of Spirit-led worship. The seminars I attended were also very good, especially by Cris Rogers on Sunday morning about new forms of church.

However, I had some rather large misgivings about the final main session. The theme for that session was “Final surrender”, which seemed fine in the verbal content of the session. However, at the end we had a “practical” element added, where delegates were encouraged to take part in an act of surrender whereby they would lie on the ground, have a black sheet lain over them, some words said about surrendering and rising to new life and then getting up again. As someone tweeted about it, it sounded just like baptism. Whilst the majority seemed to be happy to go along with it, I found myself feeling very wary about taking part.

My biggest problem is that the idea was about surrendering everything, but what does that mean? We were given examples such as Mother Theresa and Francis of Assisi, both of whom really did give up everything, but I am not convinced that hundreds of youth workers are called to be that extreme in their walk with God.
For example, I am a keen online gamer who regularly plays World of Warcraft in his spare time. I also enjoy watching series such as House and NCIS and I have a very large music collection that I really enjoy listening to. Does surrendering everything mean I should give up these things and use my time saved for God? I struggle with the question because I am sure I could be doing better in living out my faith but I am also convinced that God gives us interests and things that we enjoy so that we are able to spend some time relaxing so that we are able to work for Him to the best of our ability.
Yet none of this was really covered in the main meetings (it might have been covered in the “Surrendering Stuff” seminars, but not everyone would have been to those) and all we had to go on was an emotional response to the stories of some of the big Christian heroes and how they lived their lives for God. It’s very similar to the criticism that Soul Survivor has received in the past about their altar calls and is no better when it’s used with adults either.

So where does this leave me, and indeed us? Well, I am still struggling with the various thoughts running through my head. And I don’t think that so soon after the Youthwork Conference is the best time to start forming definitive answers. I guess time to process all that I’ve heard over the last few days is the most important thing and to see how things progress.
I know I want to give my all to God in my life, I just have to formulate an understanding of how that looks and then get on with living life for Him.

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Archbishop Cranmer

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