If you are a pastor and have been to conferences like Advance13, you know that you can find yourself very lagging on the last day. The very fact that you have sat through two full days of preaching can be overbearing. You are filled to the rim with biblical teaching. But we pressed on Thursday morning with four more times of teaching. While I was tired, I was grateful for their words of instruction.
"Sex: From the Manufacturer's Manual" by Blake Wilson
Yep, they started the morning talking about sex. Blake Wilson, a pastor in Houston, wanted to stress that sex is the means by which God has provided for man to create more image-bearers of God. Unfortunately, from the time after man sinned, they began to distort this God-given gift. And it continued to get worse until God decided to use a bunch of wood to save eight people (the flood). But mankind would continue to pursue their own sexual perversions against God's mandate for man. But now instead of saving a few with lots of wood, God would save a bunch with a little wood (the cross).
I think the one thing he emphasized that I need to contemplate more is how much the Bible talks about this issue. It is continually throughout the epistles. In Jesus' words to the seven churches in Revelation, He mentions it two times. Maybe the church should talk more about sex because it is important to God. From the very beginning, there has been a battle over this topic. And many pulpits treat this subject like it is something dirty or shouldn't be talked about.
"Practical Evangelism: How to Get Out There and Start Doing It" by Rupert Leary
One of the things that surprised me at this conference was the impact the shorter speaking times had on me. I came knowing the "A-List" speakers (sorry for that analogy). But I was greatly blessed by some of the other speakers that are less well-known. One of those that I was challenged by was the campus outreach pastor from Vintage Church, Rupert Leary. His challenge to the pastors was to get busy with evangelism. He shared three myths he has noticed concerning evangelism.
First, the Myth that Information Leads to Transformation. It is the application of information that leads to a transformed life. Evangelism cannot be learned in the classroom. It cannot be learned in a sermon. It can only be learned by doing it.
Second, the Myth of Theology and Apologetics. Yes, sound theology is the bedrock for healthy evangelism. But the greatest need of most Christians is to start applying what they already know. He was very direct at the pastors. He said that it is not enough to say evangelism is your ministry from the pulpit. The pastor must lead the way.
Third, the Myth of Personality or Presentation. Does faith come from hearing or from personality? Of course, we know from the scriptures that it comes from hearing the message. Then why do we often think that it comes from being smooth with our presentation. We need to just do it and trust the Spirit of God to do the work.
"Accidental Pharisees" by Larry Osborne
I shared yesterday about the session I sat through with Larry Osborne. He really has been gifted at thinking through church growth and leadership models. His new book, which I have just received from the publisher to review, is called "Accidental Pharisees." I am not going to say much here from his session as I will talk about it more later when I review the book. But I will just mention one thing that impacted me from his talk.
Many church leaders tend to love the hard-core lost. We tend to love the baby Christian. We love the ones that race immediately to the front of the line. But we struggle with those that struggle. And when we do, we become like the Pharisees. Good thought.
"Gospel Proclamation: In and Through the Church" by David Platt
After this message by David Platt, I tweeted: "Every time I listen to David Platt preach at a conference, I don't know whether to cry or shout for joy." That should tell you what I thought about this message. It was gospel gold! His topic was that the gospel should be proclaimed on the weekend AND throughout the week. He began by saying that imbalance in the church happens when we take "both/and" statements and turn them into "either/or" statements.
His main exhortation was that pastors should saturate their preaching with the gospel in the church so that their people would speak the gospel in the world. Preach the gospel to your people for the spread of the gospel to all peoples! From Acts 2, he shared five threads found in the gospel that we should be preaching.
1. The Character of God
2. The Sinfulness of Man
3. The Sufficiency of Christ
4. The Necessity of Faith
5. The Urgency of Eternity
He unpacked each one of these statement with biblical clarity and personal passion. I loved it. This is one that you should watch once it is posted online (I will make sure and post the link at some point). He ended the message with this thought: Preach the gospel every weekend! And expect your people to take that message throughout the world during the week!