Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I Learned From The Weekender

If you have been following the blog for the past week, you know I attended "The Weekender," a conference sponsored by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in conjunction with 9Marks Ministries. In case you missed what the conference was all about, check out the bottom of this post for a link to my perspective on each day of the conference.

In order to get the most out of a conference like this, I think a person will need to force themselves to think strategically about everything they were taught and everything they witnessed. There is always the temptation to come back from something like this and mimic everything they do. That hardly ever works. I need to be Thad Bergmeier & our church needs to be Cornerstone Bible Church. We are not them. Yet there are some things that we can learn from them. In order to work my way through this, I have asked myself this question: "What principles did I see that can be of good impact upon my current ministry?" Here is the initial answer to that question.

First, Membership Matters
I have never seen a church that stressed the importance of membership like Capitol Hill Baptist Church. But I have also never seen a church that stressed the value of membership. They will be the first ones to say that the Bible never didactically speaks of church membership, but they will say that it is all over the NT Scriptures. Not only do they call everyone that is a believer to commit and join their church, they expect it. They expect it so much that they limit the activities of what a non-member can be involved with in the life of their church.

Don't worry, we are not going to bring the hammer and limit what active non-members can do right now. But it does mean that I will recommend to our elders that we begin the process of talking about the value of membership. It does mean that we might have a conversation with those at CBC that are regular attenders, but not members. It does mean that we need to start treating membership as if it means something. But everything will be done with patience and teaching.

Second, Pastoral Care
The work the Elders did at their meeting really humbled me. They knew their members. They knew what was going on in their life. They knew their spiritual condition. And they prayed for them. They modeled what it means to shepherd the people of their church. Even with a membership of over 850, they knew what was going on in the lives of their people.

Third, Preaching Works
There are no frills at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The music simply is a piano and a guitar. They sing older songs. They prayed and read Scripture four times each. And they preached for almost an hour. All the experts say that to draw younger people, a church needs to entertain. They were anything but entertaining. I know that preaching works. Opening up the Bible, explaining the Bible, and applying the Bible is my model. It is not always the quick model, but it is the best model for long lasting results. Seeing what they do was just a helpful reminder to me that preaching is and should be the core of what you do in your main worship hour.

Fourth, Be Deliberate
They had a reason for everything they did in their church. That reason was never, "it's the easiest" or "it just makes sense." They are very deliberate about every nuance of everything they do, even down to the type of prayers that are offered at which service. I think sitting back and asking the question, "why are we doing this?" to every activity or ministry at our church will be a humbling activity. But it might just be necessary.

In the end, I would highly recommend this conference to any church leader: pastor, elder, or deacon. I would recommend it to any young man who is looking to be involved in ministry. I would recommend it to any church that is trying to make reform in their church. But if you go, don't mimic everything they do. Be yourself. Take the principles that you learn from them and apply it to your specific context of ministry. Thank you 9Marks! Thank you Capitol Hill Baptist Church! Thank you Mark Dever for your kind, gracious, and humble attitude! May God continue to help you help churches seek to be healthy.

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