Mar 12, 2013

I'm going to the Advance13 Conference

At least once a year, I try to attend a conference that will strengthen my understanding of the gospel or help in my practical leadership in the church.  Sometimes, that is a hard balance to find.  Some conferences are great on providing deep lectures about the gospel.  They are headlined by some of the great minds in the church.  I have been to several of these and am always stretched in my theological apprehension.  Other times, I have been to conferences that are focused on church leadership, growth strategies, and ministry nuts and bolts.  These always give me something new to think about, try to implement or adapt in my ministry context, or just be jealous that I didn't think of it sooner.

Very rarely do I find a conference that can balance these two things.  I believe that Advance13 will be such a conference.  I have been impressed by the team at Advance the Church for a couple of years now.  They have put together an impressive conference experience several times.  I haven't been able to attend because I am usually already committed to another conference by the time I find out.  I did attend a regional event with ATC in Hattiesburg, MS a couple of years ago.  I was impressed with the depth, the practicality, the speakers, and the price.  It was good to see guys within about three hours of me who shared some of the same concerns I did as a pastor.

The theme for Advance13 is "Building a Faithful and Effective Ministry".  These guys have both an appreciation for the depth of the gospel.  But more than that, they are practicioners of the church.  They are pastors who are in the trenches of church leadership every day.  Speakers at this year's conference include John Piper, Bryan Loritts, Matt Chandler, J.D. Greear, David Platt, and Tyler Jones.  Breakouts are offered that are very practical in nature.  There will be networking times for participants to meet other guys and exchange ideas.

Here is an excerpt from their blog about the conference:

There is a false dichotomy in the church today, between faithful ministry and effective ministry – depth and width – making disciples and reaching the lost. Most of our churches are good at one or the other. Churches that prioritize faithfulness make mature disciples, but don’t always reach the lost. Churches that prioritize effectiveness reach the lost, but often don’t make mature disciples.
 The gospel calls for both. Faithfulness and effectiveness cannot be separated. Churches that grow wide without growing deep are not producing width that lasts. Churches that grow deep without growing wide are not as deep as they think.
We need faithful AND effective churches.

This is a major tension I am feeling as a church leader right now.  I am looking forward to seeking the Lord on this matter and the insights I will glean at Advance13.  It's not too late to register.  You can still make it to Raleigh and if you do, call me up and we'll grab coffee.  I am sure I can learn a lot from you too!

Mar 6, 2013

Update and Some Links

I know that my recent unplanned blogging hiatus has probably dwindled my readership from about a couple of dozen down to 1 or 2 people who have nothing much to do during the day but to jump around blog bookmarks.  Most of the reason for my hiatus has been that any extra time during the day not devoted to solving church problems or cleaning up after my kids has been spent working on my doctor of ministry project.  I turned in my proposal in late January and got approval as well as a one-year extension.  So, now I am reading my research and preparing my lessons to teach for my project.  Still a lot of work left to do.  I appreciate your prayers in the process.

My church is doing our first 4-day Revival since I have been here as pastor this week.  Tonight is our last night.  My personal pastor and spiritual dad, Mickey Dalrymple, has been with us this week.  It has been a unique privilege and honor to spend time with him and to share my pulpit with him as he has brought messages.  We are also being led in music by my friend Darryl Collins whom I worked with for 13 years at Westwood Baptist Church in Alabaster, AL.  Pray for our last night tonight that we can see a harvest from our efforts.

Since I wanted to get back in the blog, I thought I would post a few links for you to read that I have recently come across:

Three Actions Each Pastor and Church Need to Take by Ronnie Floyd - I have long appreciated Dr. Floyd's leadership and example.  I had the honor of hearing him preach last week during the AL State Evangelism Conference.  This is a good reminder of how a church can discover it's local missional context.

Largest Churches in the Southern Baptist Convention by Thom Rainer - I have also benefited greatly by Thom Rainer's influence.  I am glad to have him leading our efforts at Lifeway.  Since I love to read about churches and their strategies, I have always had an interest in seeing the numbers of a church.  Don't be fooled.  These numbers can quickly become an idol for many seeking to compare themselves to other churches or leaders.  However, I like looking at them and comparing them to where they may have been several years ago.  Some have grown considerably.  Some have shrunk considerably.  It was also interesting that I have served at one on the list, grew up at one on the list, and have several personal friends in ministry that are serving at some on the list.

Four Good Reasons to Read Good Books by Tim Challies - You know that I am an avid book buyer and sometimes reader. I love to help put a good book in someone's hand to help them grow in their understanding of God, grace, or the gospel.  I think too many people miss out on so much because they do not practice the discipline of reading good books.  I think there is some correlation in the ineffectiveness of many in the church today and the proliferation of television channels, internet, and social media.  This is a good article to help you be more inspired to read.