Three Takeaways from My Trip to TGC 2015
Recently I had the privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition National Conference. The theme for the conference was “Coming Home: New Heaven & New Earth”.
I decided to attend this particular conference for two reasons. First, I was really excited about the theme of the conference, and I wanted to explore and study that theme. Second, this conference gave me the opportunity to hear some ministers of the gospel teach and preach that I had never heard before. I have read many of their books, but I have never had the opportunity to sit under their teaching and preaching. The conference gave me the opportunity to attend multiple small group sessions, as well as the general large group sessions.
As I have been reflecting on the conference, I want to share three ways the conference, and in particular the small group sessions, challenged me to continue to grow and lead in ministry.
1. The Importance of Church Revitalization
In the first session, Dr. Harry Reeder spoke of the need for church revitalization. He challenged us with the fact that 88-91% of the churches in America are in decline and in need of revitalization. He then proceeded to share his story of leading three different churches in revitalization. After he shared his story, he answered questions from pastors who were leading churches that were hurting and in need of revitalization. I walked away from this session challenged to read and study the subject of revitalization, and to continue to pursue being a healthy leader and by God’s grace to continue to lead First Baptist Church to be a healthy church.
2. The Imperative to Preach Affectionately
The second session I attended was led by Dr. Tim Keller. He taught on the subject of “Preaching To The Heart”.
In this session, Dr. Keller taught six ways that you can preach to the heart. Each of the six principles he gave were very helpful, and the session left me excited to read his upcoming book on the same subject.
But I was challenged the most with his second principle: Preach affectionately.
In this principle, Dr. Keller talked about how our passion, our prayer life, and our personal life relate to the gospel that we proclaim, and how we proclaim it. I will be meditating on this session for a long time.
3. The Impact of "Relational Beauty"
Finally, I had the privilege of attending a session by Ray Ortlund entitled: “How To Build A Gospel Culture In Your Church”.
His first sentence captured me. He said, “There is more to the gospel than correctness.” Following that statement, Pastor Ortlund went on to say that ”faithfulness to the gospel requires more than doctrinal purity in our churches. It also requires relational beauty in our churches.”
The rest of the session focused on ways to create this kind of culture in your church. Every church has a culture, and every church culture is communicating something. I was challenged as I left this session to make sure that the culture of First Baptist Wheeling is one that is focused both on doctrinal purity and relational beauty. For both are important to the health of the church and the proclamation of the gospel.
I am grateful that I was able to attend the conference, and for how God used it to challenge me in my walk and ministry with Him.