Friday, February 13, 2009

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:
  1. Imposition (of our beliefs on others through manipulation or coercion)
  2. Personal Testimony (of personal experience)
  3. Social Action/Public Involvement
  4. Apologetics (defending the faith) - "Apologetics is responding to the agenda somebody else sets; evangelism is executing God's agenda."
  5. The Results of Evangelism
I've said and/or thought all of these before, but not nearly as systematically or eloquently.

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.



At 13 February, 2009 11:53, Blogger samurai said...

That sounds like it was an awesome conference. Do you know if any of the sessions are available via MP3 downloads?

"We don't want seeker-sensitive services, but for our members to have seeker-sensitive lives."

What an excellent quote...

At 13 February, 2009 12:17, Blogger GUNNY said...

A good time was had by all, brother.

YES, you can download all of it via mp3. I'll go back in the post and make that more explicit.

By the way, that's part of the beauty of Desiring God is all their stuff is downloadable ... for FREE.

At 13 February, 2009 12:21, Blogger samurai said...

Awesome... those are going on the MP3 player ASAP. it's not as good as being there... but it will have to do.

Thanks Brother.

At 13 February, 2009 21:17, Blogger Rev. said...

One of these years I'm going to make the WC trip up in MN with you. :)

At 16 February, 2009 07:14, Blogger Lance said...

Love the quote by Chandler on pastoral sanctification. So true!

As a pastor, I learned all too well what John Newton once said, "I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior!"

At 19 February, 2009 17:39, Blogger GUNNY said...

That John Newton has great insight into God's grace. He should write a song about how AMAZING it is. ;-]


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