I've just got back from speaking at, and enjoying with my family this conference (I tend to write blog posts, and then leave them for a few weeks before posting). Here's some thoughts:
1) The convention is very well organised.
As a speaker I didn't have to worry about technical problems, I could just focus on teaching - what a blessing! As a parent, I could trust the activities for my children would run well - another blessing!
2) The workers were Servant-hearted, Humble and Welcoming.
I never picked up any sense of, 'We're better than other conferences!' or 'We really know what we're doing!' This should go without saying, but sadly it doesn't. As a recovering proud-man, I've found myself increasingly sensitive to the pride that often accompanies conferences.
3) They encouraged me to speak on Classism and Racism and it was well received.
I've been speaking on these topics for over 20 years, and this may have been the most open crowd I've spoke to yet. This is so encouraging for the future of the Church in the UK.
4) I was asked to Exposit Scripture, rather than being pigeon-holed.
A lot of us urban types only get asked to speak about urban ministry; So it was refreshing to be asked to give a couple of sermons too.
5) There were a good number of Disabled People there.
A fair bit of my sermons touched on disability, and it was a privilege to have so many disabled people present who could hear this, and dialogue with me afterwards.
6) The Children's & Youth ministry was Bible based.
Each day, all our four children were being taught the Bible as well as doing fun activities. This was priceless. Especially if you are from a very small church, its such a blessing to have your children able to learn the Bible and sing songs with a larger number of children.
7) There are more working class people than other conferences.
Of course, it depends on what you're comparing with. For me, it was refreshing to see more working class people at such a conference.
8) There wasn't a lot of ethnic diversity.
I didn't expect there to be, and the fact that I was encouraged to talk on racism, signalled that they hope to see this change at the conference and the wider Church. I think, to see more diversity in the convention, it might help if we had added more diversity to the worship styles and people on the stage. I recognise that these things take time, and I trust Keswick is moving in the right direction.
9) The Song lyrics were very good.
Whilst the musical style/genre made me feel a bit of a cultural outsider, I felt blessed by: a) The lyrics were so biblical, b) The band were so servant-hearted, and really did a great job of putting our focus on God and not them, c) Singing with thousands of people was so emotional, that sometimes I couldn't sing properly (at least that's my excuse!).
10) The Content was Good.
Between seminars and sermons, there was an incredible menu of good content. In fact, I was gutted I couldn't get to make a lot of talks.
11) There was space for women to shine.
In my tribe, conferences can easily be a real mens-fest. At Keswick, I felt like I was in Wakanda, seeing many women serving in various roles, from worship leading, to teaching seminars, to presenting, to running the production etc. Keswick even flew over a female Indian scholar to help explain Song of Songs.
10) Keswick is an incredibly beautiful place.
One minute, you're hearing good Bible teaching, the next minute you're in a lake looking up at mountains, amongst God's people. It doesn't get much better than that!