If you haven't found the already, you can find the conference talks from The Gospel Coalition here.
So, now that I'm down from the conference mountain top, I'm trying to prayerfully sift through some of the things the Lord showed me and hopefully taught me while there. Here are a few random reflections. I'd be interested to hear some of your own in the comments section.
1. The Lord has given me the outstanding privilege of pastoring a church full of "positives." I like Driscoll's description of positives, negatives, and neutrals. The framework was helpful and easily recognizable. And I had one of those moments that sometimes happens, where something is said in the sermon and the Lord draws your attention away from the sermon to a particular thought needing your attention and prayer. I was drawn to listing the people in the church who were "positives." In a couple minutes, I had a sheet of paper full of people and the definite sense that I could go on if I had my membership directory with me. [Note to self: keep the directory with you all the time]
2. Do not fear and do not shy away from suffering. Boy, do I need to hear that again and again, and I'm grateful to those who will preach the difficult things of the ministry. Speaker after speaker called us to do the hard things in the ministry with joy, to endure suffering like a good soldier, and to count the suffering nothing compared to the riches of Christ.
3. The Keller, Fernando, Carson talks form an outstanding primer on preaching the gospel in a way that makes contact with modern pagans and religious folks who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. If you only listen to three talks, listen to these three. I don't know that there were any set of talks at any conference that have so quickly and deeply impacted my view of preaching or quickened as much desire to preach than these three together. Keller addresses idolatry so clearly. Fernando helped so much with thinking about communicating to folks who don't share your assumptions, language, etc. And Carson's discussion about the "third position" from which we flex to win people was simply outstanding. I'm going back to these more slowly and carefully.
4. One talk for preachers: Bryan Chappel's sermon. Must listen! "We not only preach about God and for God, but also as God." Preacher, you need that unpacked for you if you've never thought about it or heard it. Must listening for preachers and for those who listen to preaching. The Scriptures are the voice, hand and heart of God. Chappel's use of Lewis' liar, lunatic and Lord applied to the word of God was brilliant! Listen to this sermon.
5. The fellowship of 3,000+ saints. I can't say enough about this. Old friends; new friends. Re-acquainting and rejoicing together in our Lord.
6. The fellowship with the three brothers who attended with me. This, by far, was the most precious part of the time there, growing together with brothers who love the Lord and His gospel. And this was only possible because of the generosity of the church. Our partnership in the gospel enriches me beyond description. Again, the "positives" are too numerous to count.
7. I was deeply impressed with how The Gospel Coalition and T4G and the Sovereign Grace Pastors' Conference and Worship God and The Shepherd's Conference are being used of the Lord to prepare the coming generation of pastors. These meetings are young! Overwhelmingly, twenty- and thirty-somethings come to these meetings, and one can see the torch being passed as they sit under the ministries of those who've been at it 30, 40 and sometimes 50 years. I love the humility on display when a man in his 30s sits under the teaching of someone who has been serving the Lord's church longer than they've been alive. That's good and healthy. All over the place there was the exchange of head and heart between young and old. It was sweet.
8. World Christianity. That's what you get a glimpse of when you have the privilege of attending something like The Gospel Coalition. When you're at something like this, you see that the church is bigger than your own local congregation. You see that neither your successes or struggles are unique to you. You see thousands of people representing thousands of churches where the Lord is very actively at work! It reminds you that you're not alone, grows your prayer life, and strengthens you for the work ahead.
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