Thursday, March 21, 2013

Advance13 Conference, Session 04 (Wednesday Afternoon)

I posted my thoughts this morning on what happened in the morning sessions Wednesday. Here are some of my thoughts from the afternoon session.

"Becoming a Multiplying Church" by Brian Bloye

In this session, Brian Bloye tried to convince us that we should be a multiplying church, not just a church that is trying to build our own empire. He shared several steps towards this end.

First, it has to start with the heart of the senior leadership team. It must be a catch and release mentality as opposed to a catch and keep. Second, the leadership must be willing to cast an ongoing, compelling vision. If you are going to be a church planting church, it must become part of the DNA of the church. Third, it is going to take an investment. Fourth, you must tell stories and celebrate success stories. And fifth, pick a target and start today.

The one thing that stuck out to me had nothing to do with church planting. Or at least, I am going to apply it to something other than creating the culture of church planting. I think our church does not tell the stories of peoples lives enough. I wonder if in creating a DNA of member involvement and evangelism, we need to continually share what is going on in the life of individuals in our church. This was a helpful reminder for me.

"The Gospel and Hip-Hop" by D. A. Horton

One of the most unique sessions of the conference was when D. A. Horton shook us with an urge to cross the street to share the gospel to the urban culture. To be honest, I will listen to this message again. He was spot on theologically. He was brutally honest about our ignorance of thinking we can use our terminology in a different culture. And he was brilliant in his use of illustrations. The only thing I did not like was that he might have taken Tyler Jones on the fastest speaker award. His ability to articulate at a rapid speed was incredible. 

Much of his message was focused on the acronym "Gospel" that is listed below. He illustrated and explained each point in detail, particularly how he would explain it in his hip-hop culture. It was brilliant!

G = God's Image
O = Open Fellowship
S = Sin is Introduced
P = Penalty & Price
E = Enter Jesus; Eternally God
L = Life Everlasting

"How Both Faithful and Effective Churches Assume the Gospel" by Matt Chandler

If you have read around my blog very much, I am sure you have caught on that I really appreciate the preaching ministry of Matt Chandler, who is one of the most gifted and helpful preachers for my heart these days. His message out of 1 Corinthians 3 had several points that helped me think more clearly about my own calling to pastoral ministry.

First, all ministers, regardless of gifting, placement, or assignment, are first and foremost a servant of the most high God. We must regard ourselves as such. There is something about men who lie low and exalt Christ. Second, all ministers are tools in the hand of God. We can motivate, but only God can transform. We can marvel at God's use of John Piper, but we could not marvel at John Piper. He is just a ministry tool in the hands of God like I am in the hands of God. Third, all ministers serve the same purpose. We are here to make much of the only One who will ever be praised.

After setting it up, he turned to show how both fruitful and faithful churches might assume the gospel. Fruitful churches (which he defined as a church based on numbers) might assume the gospel when they think they need to help the gospel by making it (or even Jesus) cool enough for everyone. That will never be possible. The gospel offends.

But on the other hand, faithful churches (which he defined as a church based on doctrine or truth) might assume the gospel when they think that smallness validates their faithfulness. It can also be seen when they lack gospel ambition or when they are unnecessarily harsh (I really appreciated when he said there is a wrong way to be right). In a similar way to J. D. Greear, Chandler emphasized that they assume these people (insert me here) when there is evangelistic laziness. There is a little in me that I have had to deal with that has wondered if God really wants to use me as conduits of His sovereign grace. I believe He does . . . Lord, help my unbelief!

Question & Answer
The afternoon session ended with a time for questions and answers. There is only one observation I want to make. On the stage, from left to right was Tyler Jones, David Platt, John Piper, J. D. Greear, and Matt Chandler. Maybe they set it up on purpose, but it appeared as if everyone was looking to Piper in the middle. Honestly, it just seemed appropriate. My guess is that he is the father figure in this group of men. Most of the questions ended up being towards him or getting back to him. It should have been a Q&A with John Piper.

There was an evening session. I will post my thoughts about it later today.

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