This post is written for two reasons. To help me reflect on attending the conference this week and to provide some information on what’s going on with the SBC and church planting. I’m including some personal observations and reflections as well as memorable teachings and quotes from some of the speakers. Keep in mind that over 2000 people attended and there were a myriad of workshops and breakout sessions, and I was only able to attend a few of them.
1) First and foremost, the conference was Jesus centered. Not because it was supposed to be, but because it was. The conference was more doxological than practical. Practical workshops were provided, but it was primarily about lifting up and seeing Jesus afresh. Worship fuels mission.
2) The conference was truly a multi-generational event. I talked to young guys heading all over North America to plant churches, from rural Tennessee to Boston. I also spoke with seasoned pastors in their 60s looking to fund new churches. I think this spoke to the unity of purpose among all that attended.
3) The conference was diverse. From skinny jeans and chucks to suits and ties, all kinds represented.
4) The conference was not diverse enough. There were way too many white faces in the seats. But… it wasn’t as homogenous as you might think. There were signs of racial diversity and there is a desire in the SBC to see more of this. That’s good, because Christ died for the nations and we’ll need people of all colors and cultures to engage the racial and cultural diversity of North American cities.
5) There was an emphasis on the demonstration of the gospel in good works without damaging the importance of the proclamation of the gospel which is necessary for salvation (Matt 5:16).
6) Great emphasis was placed on the kingdom of God. Vance Pittman spoke to this well, detailing how our focus has so emphasized the church (ourselves) that we’ve forgotten that the church is God’s tool for the advancement of his kingdom, not an end in itself. Surely this type of thinking would revamp the way we think about programs in the church and equipping all Christians to live and breathe as missionaries, not church members.
7) Pittman also pressed against the arrogance that we see in many church planters today. He reminded us that true church planting is done in humility and for the glory of God, and ultimately by God. It’s not for the glory or reputation of the church planter. I appreciated his words, “We need a revival of humility!” He’s a passionate dude.
8) David Platt also dealt with this idea, encouraging us all to celebrate sending people from our churches rather than boosted attendance figures.
9) The overall vibe of the conference spoke “every church and every Christian should be involved in church planting!”… whether it be through giving resources, prayer, and/or actually planting. And churches should mobilize towards birthing new churches if they aren’t already. Ultimately, healthy churches reproduce and we must pray God works this into the life and heartbeat of our churches.
10) Every Christian is a missionary. It sounds cliché but it’s not happening. See point 1.
11) Ed Stetzer talks really fast, and he has a lot of good insights. I remember “If you can order Starbucks, you can learn theological language.” More importantly, he answered the question, “What are Christians?” At a foundational level, we’re people who have been delivered from the domain of darkness by God and transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Col 1:13-14). This reminded me that no matter what change I or any other Christian may desire, the greatest change has already occurred and is the anchor and springboard for all future change.
More to come…