Wednesday was a full day here in Chicago at The Gospel Coalition-2011 conference, with three major sessions and some workshop sessions. I also bumped into more friends — old and new!
EARLY SESSION – There was an extra session (over the breakfast hour) with a panel of speakers on Pastoral Transitions. I went to hear from Mark Dever’s insights (and to glean some ideas for a man I know looking to enter the ministry). I am also now more anxious to fulfill my pastoral responsibilities to my church, and help prepare them for their next pastoral transition [hopefully a long way off!].SESSION 5 – James MacDonald on “Not According to Our Sins” from Psalm 25. This is a popular mega-church pastor from Chicago, whose pulpit style was much more modern (lots of waking about, and use of video clips & props) and anecdotal (lots of personal sharing and illustrations). The props included three large ‘oil drum’ like containers into which he put cue-card sized terms as he made various points. One pastor I talked with said he learned a lot more about James MacDonald than about Psalm 25.
WORKSHOPS. The first workshop I attended was a panel discussion on the training of the next generation of Pastors & Leaders, featuring Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson and Ligon Duncan. There some good insights into how seminaries and churches need to work together — and churches need to take the lead in training up future pastors.For lunch I was invited to join with my friend Ron and the staff of Desert Springs Church — having deep dish pizza at Giordano’s (the best!). it took three taxicabs to transport our little group there (and back again). Sitting in the front with the driver I tried to strike up a gospel conversation. The first driver it turned out, was an Egyptian Coptic Christian, who was glad we were meeting in town. The driver on the return trip said it was his first day driving a cab. He was more interested in tossing me one-liners than anything else. When he learned I was a pastor, he quieted down a bit.
My second workshop was with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert on the “the Mission of the Church” — no small topic that! It was great to see these guys in person after reading their books and blogs. I have some good notes from this for sharing later on.
SESSION 6 – Conrad Mbewe (of Zambia) spoke from Jeremiah 23:1-8 on “The Righteous Branch.” VERY fine, powerful preaching with great connections of broad themes (shepherd & righteousness) in the OT and NT. This has been one of my favorite sessions so far. Definitely worth listening to when the audio becomes available.
SESSION 7 – Matt Chandler spoke on “Youth” from a well known section of Ecclesiastes 11-12. This young preacher is an energetic expositor and very well versed in the message of Ecclesiastes. Although a much different style of preaching than Mohler, Mbewe or Carson, it was a good sermon with significant applications. (more good notes to use on the blog or at the church!). If you want to listen to this, wait for the video version!
Some of the people contacts today included Pastor David Brame – an old friend from New England days, and Dr Craig Troxel – a friend from the last Banner of Truth conference (where he also spoke). New friends included a fellow I prayed at the close of the first session, a helpful representative from Covenant Seminary, and the lunch bunch from Desert Springs Church (NM), including Pastor & Mrs. Ryan Kelly, Trent Hunter, and others. I even found time to read half a book during the supper hour, and also to pray for my family and the folks at CPCC as they were about to gather for Wednesday night programs (I’m missing them all).
Looking forward to our final day.