Advance09 – Recap
Well, for the first time in several years I had opportunity to attend a “pastors” conference. The conference was Advance09 and it was well worth the wait! This conference was mainly hosted by a couple of local churches in the Raleigh/Durham (go Tarheels!) area but it was “advanced” primarily by the Acts 29 church planting network. The lineup of speakers was solid, as you can see from the website. I was also able to meet up with my good friend Mark and met some friends of his here, here, and here. A good time was had by all.
Mainly for my benefit, but hopefully for yours too, I am going to briefly recap the main thrust of most of the speakers. I won’t go into great detail since that has been done elsewhere and you can hear the complete audio here. Also at advancethechurch.com you can check out the continuing work of this conference with future conferences planned and blog posts and video content. There will be future Advance conferences and events so stay plugged in.
Mark Driscoll - What is the Church?
In the first session Pastor Mark set out some descriptions of what the church is, and along the way he pointed out some historical and culture manifestations of the local church. Specifically he spoke about the individualistic bent the church took and now a days there is an overreaction to this with too much focus on the “gathering”. Mark emphasized that preaching is the most important thing but not the only thing. He admonished the pastors present not to be afraid of the people and not to be a coward and fear man (your members). He also told us to Preach Jesus as He is and will be…BIG, EXALTED, and BIG ENOUGH FOR ANYTHING!
The church is:
- Regenerate Church membership
- Qualified Leadership
- Gathering for preaching and worship
- Sacraments rightly administered (every week?)
- Unified by the Spirit
- Disciplined for holiness
- Obeys the great commandment to love
- Obeys the great commandment to evangelize and reach the nations
There was some more about the Church being
- Scattered & Gathered
- Attractional & Missional
- Preaching should lead everything (small groups, etc.)
- Biblical principles vs. cultural method
Bryan Chapell – Communicating the Gospel through preaching
His notes can be found here. Dr. Chapell is a weill know professor @ Covenant Theological Seminary and the author of some good books on preaching. Dr. Chapell encouraged the pastors to preach a loving but powerful Jesus in every sermon we preach.
Matt Chandler – Preaching the Gospel to the De-churched
We need to get back to the nature and character of God – the fear of God. How do we build confession in our churches? Preach the cross! Make the cross central. Embrace the foolishness of the Gospel. We cannot contextualize the Gospel where everyone likes it.
Ed Stetzer – Keys to Understanding the Church and the Kingdom
Matthew 16 – The church holds the keys to the Kingdom of God. Three things are necessary to be a kingdom focused church:
- Recognize the centrality of Christ (culture may make this harder in the future). Our churches need to be Jesus centered and Spirit led. Make every message about Jesus and not about change. Don’t preach a message void of Jesus though you can still preach practical messages. Make Jesus always the hero. Make the cross a bigger issue than you church.
- Peter’s confession is the foundation of God’s Church. Peter’s declaration of the person of Christ led to Jesus’ declaration of the plan of the Church. Jesus said HE will build HIS church. A nostalgic/naive Calvinism (“all I need is the Bible/Owen/Spurgeon) is not interested in learning from others and is defective. The gates of Hades cannot resist the Advance of the Church.
- The Church is God’s tool for Kingdom Mission. Matt 16:19-20. We need a Kingdom vs. a self focused church…the Church proclaims the Gospel thereforeit holds the keys to the Kingdom.
J.D. Greer – Re-vitalizing a church.
From Matthew 23, 6 timeless characteristics of religion.
- Religious people love recognition and the praise and attention of people
- Religious people substitute religious ritual for a love of God
- Religious people elevate secondary issues over a love for God
- Religious people elevate religious ritual over a love for others
- Religious people are more aware of the sins of others than their own
- Religious people always think others are talking about other people’s sins and not their own
God, please save me and my church from being religious people!
Mark Driscoll – Ministry Idolatry
A lot of pastors suffer from unrepentant idols of the heart:
- Attendance Idolatry
- Gift Idolatry – of your own gifts and others
- Truth Idolatry – education/knowledge
- Fruit Idolatry – success
- Tradition Idolatry
- Method Idolatry
- Office Idolatry – Identity
- Success Idolatry – is winning or out-performing your idol?
- Ministry Idolatry – wanting the position too badly
- Innovation Idolatry
- Leader Idolatry
Repent! It is not only what we preach that is important but what we practice.
Danny Aiken – 9 Marks of a Healthy Community of Faith
- Will consistently love each other – volitional/active/working/serving love
- Cares for those in need
- Honors the divine institution of marriage & family
- Unshakable faith in the Providence of God
- Respect those who teach and rule the church. Why should they? Church leaders should: 1. Be faithful to preach and speak the whole Word of God, boldly, clearly, truthfully. 2. Guard your life. 3. Shepherd the flock and love them. This takes time.
- Will not be moved away from Christ centered doctrine
- Spiritual sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and service
- Cultivate a ministry of prayer for its leaders – encourage your people to pray for you
- Will look to the Lord Jesus as their good shepherd who will be faithful to make them complete in every good work.
That is about all I have. Again, I encourage you to listen to the audio if you are interested. I didn’t even cover John Piper’s messages on world missions. Great stuff!
Join me in Advancing the Local Church!