Benji, Casey, and Gunny Go to White Castle.
Like 2006, 2007, and 2008 I was in Minneapolis for the 2009 Desiring God pastors conference,* which, of course, includes the obligatory trip to White Castle. This year my bus mates were Benji Magness and Casey Jones.
Michael Oh's address, "Missions As Fasting" (manuscript pdf) was convicting on many levels. It was a good reminder of what missionaries give up to follow Christ:
"Missionary fasting requires forsaking comfort, recognition and family."He noted 2 recent trends which pose a problem to going & sending:
1. The idea that we're all missionaries.
"The term 'missions' historically meant crossing geographical or cultural boundaries to make Christ known. Making Christ known in your native context is called evangelism, which is distinct from missions."
2. The abduction of mission language by non-missional groups.
"... this can lull us into thinking that we don't need to go in order to make Christ known, but can fulfill our obligation from where we are."
This year's keynote speaker was Mark Dever and he spoke to issues regarding evangelism in the church, particularly the pastor's role.
I most appreciated his 5 Things We Can Mistake for Evangelism:
- Imposition (of our beliefs on others through manipulation or coercion)
- Personal Testimony (of personal experience)
- Social Action/Public Involvement
- Apologetics (defending the faith) - "Apologetics is responding to the agenda somebody else sets; evangelism is executing God's agenda."
- The Results of Evangelism
In another session he addressed the focus of the worship service and the need to equip folks for evangelism:
"We don't want seeker-sensitive services, but for our members to have seeker-sensitive lives."
Matt Chandler of The Village Church in Highland Village (Dallas area) spoke to the topic of "The Shepherd and His Unregenerate Sheep."
He walked us through Paul's admonitions in 1 Timothy 4 reminding us that it is far too common to have church members and participants who know about Jesus, but don't actually know Him.
At one point he spoke of how a church can take on some of the character flaws of its leadership.
"I constantly pray that God would protect the people of The Village from me. "
It's been my experience that pastors often think they reach the pinnacle of sanctification upon seminary graduation, but we continue to grow through our service in the church. Chandler said,
"No one unpacked for me that being a pastor was going to be a part of my own sanctification. It’s going to be the process of God disciplining me for the rest of my life."
Dr. John "the Pipe" Piper does a yearly biographical sketch. This year, he shared with us the phenomenon known as George Whitefield: "I Will Not Be a Velvet-Mouthed Preacher." (manuscript)
He paid tribute to a man unparalled in his preaching endurance, physical delivery, and passion, but also a man of complexity (e.g., being a slave owner, but simultaneously undermining the practice of slavery by evangelizing the slave population and treating converts as brethren).
*Check out the conference page to listen or download audio (mp3), video, and/or notes & manuscripts of the sessions, including the Q&A.