Even with a full night of rest, I was still very tired when we got to the civic center in the morning for the conference. But any sleepiness that was there left quickly after seeing friends and singing. So I was quite wide awake by the time Mr. Washer came to the front to give his second keynote, called “Church Planting in Hard Places,” during which he tried to condense two messages into one, catching up from the previous evening.
The text he spoke from was one of my favorites, John 15:1-11, 16 (that passage has been a source of frequent meditation for me over the past few months).
He challenged us to focus not on statistics and demographics but our relationship with Christ, for if we know Him, nothing is impossible. We don’t need more scholars, but men who’ve been with God. Not programs, but Christ. Christ, the vine, is the source of life for us, the branches. The Church can do nothing if it is not grafted into and dependent on the vine. The Father is the vinedresser, and He designs and shapes the Church.
Individual growth isn’t mechanical, a result of self-discipline and human will, but desperation (the violent entering into the kingdom – violent because we are so week and violently holding onto Him). Our growth is internal, because it comes from the vine and we are attached to Him. The more we are attached to the vine, the more fruitful we will be for Him.
It’s not just knowledge, sacrifice and dedication, but it must also be relation and dependence on the Vine.
As the Church, designed by God, we need to be beautiful to Christ, our Bridegroom, rather than the carnal world.
It’s been ordained by God and commanded for the Church to be fruitful. It’s fruit isn’t necessarily in evangelism, but feeding the flock, the task set for her in scripture. The Father sovereignly ordained our growth and designs the trellis to conform us to God’s words.
The TRUE Church IS one, beautiful, fruitful (Don’t talk bad about the Church but preach that the “church” isn’t the church). We are making the Church to be dressed like a @#!*% who isn’t attractive to Christ, her husband, but to the world. Don’t dress the Church up, make her holy. Protect her purity and beauty. Only built what scripture commands us to build. Preach the world, and if carnal men don’t come, they’re not called.
We must put biblical mandates over culture. Lead them away from materialism instead of meeting material needs. There are times for resting, but we are at war! We give entertainment rather than confronting them with eternal reality. Don’t quiet conscience, cleanse it. Don’t promote community, but Christ. It’s not for them to be a part of us but a part of Christ. Get it out in the open – WE TRUST IN CHRIST. No one persecutes you if you don’t speak of Christ – but then we lose.
People don’t come to your Church because you’re weird. Dress like/live like the culture except where culture is against scripture. Beauty and elegance aren’t bad words. Simplicity is a good word. Sensuality, luxury, and extravagance are bad words.
The gospel is our scandal, not an idea from our head.
Give to the Church what belongs to the Church, give to the family what belongs to the family.
“Do not dress like a puritan. Why? They lived a long time ago.”
“Don’t call yourself a pastor unless you’re going to pastor.”
“Shall not the Lamb have full reward for His suffering?”
“You go down into the well or you hold the rope for those that go down. Either way, your hands will be scarred.” Where are your scars?
Then we had three breakout sessions: the three I went to were: Teens in the FIC, Courtship, and Hospitality. It was all very familiar but it was helpful reiteration and grounding in conviction, as well as better ways of saying things, especially about youth groups.
The first two were panels.
In the teens one, they discussed the modernity of the word and idea of ‘teenager,’ and explained more of how an FIC works – FIC doesn’t mean you’re only with your family, but that you do it with your family. They talked about socialization, and how really, the one who spends time with all age groups is more socialized. Which is more socially rounded: someone who can talk with people in all aspects of life, or just one? Is a better musician one who plays a lot of piano or a little of violin, guitar, and piano? Also, that you don’t grow if you spend time with a group in which everyone has the same level of knowledge!
Scripture doesn’t recognize teen – it’s child, then adult. It expects growth, not stagnation. We seem to think adults have to be different but teens can be the same as the world.
The FIC helps you grow up – learning discipline, serving, seeing fruitful marriages and effective child training, learning for the future, watching it happen. The family grows together because they’re all learning together, and it aids application and accountability.
The real world isn’t age segregated… so you won’t fit in with the world – but that leads to ministry.
How do you combat the lie of Youth groups? Showing biblical family life and family ministry. Not just learning from those at the same level.
Most youth ministers don’t want to appear as a wise and wounded warrior but a peer. But no youth pastor is needed because of the father and pastor/elder.
Second was the Courtship Q&A panel. There were many good questions asked and answered. Here are just a few lines from my notes:
Where does interest stop and courtship start, then where does courtship stop and engagement begin?
Determining if they’re qualified, see if there’s anything that comes up and says “don’t keep going.”
Learn to communicate with men by communicating with your father and brothers.
Definition of courtship – it’s a principle, not a word.
In purity, getting to know each other objectively – convictions, desires, hopes, seeing if it lines up. THEN he wins her heart.
Courtship to honor God and not injure each other. He doesn’t use the back door, but goes through the front – the father.
Speak to those who know him well and see him clearly (siblings and parents are helpful).
Emotions will come – don’t awaken them. Talk technical things without involving your heart.
Adopt singles into your family, help them walk through the process when it comes.
He can redeem the bad years – judge the other from where they are NOW and disciple so they can come even closer.
Point: glorify God and establish marriages that glorify God.
Then was lunch, which included a Q&A with the elders of GfBC and GfBC Conroe and Mr. Washer.
Mr. Washer emphasized that it isn’t so much the amount of time we spend with God, but that we’re spending time with Him to the point where we’re growing, and that He is our priority. Every moment wasted is a moment that could have been used for Him.
If you come to the FIC because it’s FIC you come wrong. Come because the banner is Christ. The FIC is not the perfect bride of Christ.
Don’t unite over FIC and forget doctrine. Devote our time to what scripture teaches, not preference. What’s how’s and why’s. If the fruit isn’t there, then it is a doctrinal issue.
People who hate God should not feel comfortable in Church. In a foreign place, where they’re welcome but it’s still foreign.
Look at history – if there’s a “new revelation” never had before in history, be wary.
All that we’re dealing with has happened before in history. The providence of God guards the Church.
After lunch there was a third breakout session, and I attended the one on hospitality.
Hospitality builds community and is a tool for evangelism, a launching pad for the gospel.
The home is a refuge for missionaries, a place for equipping believers and exposing non-believers to the gospel. Scripture also tells us when NOT to show hospitality (1 Cor 5:11, 2 John 10-11)
Start small and keep it simple – it’s about people and relationships, not the stuff you have.
Your house doesn’t need to be spotless, but clean and orderly.
There were many practical helps given, like keeping baby toys and chairs on hand, what kinds of food are good to make, and considering the dynamics of different groups.
Hospitality (to minister and serve) vs. entertaining (pride and to impress)
Involve guests in your routine of family worship.
Meet their needs – dig down to find out what their need is, and then how you can meet it.
Practice and learn!
Then we journeyed back to the main room for a closing session. The final keynote was preached by Mr. Baucham. Mr. Baucham’s keynote was entitled, “Starting from the Ground Up.” The text was Ephesians 4:1-16. He talked about the difference between orthodoxy (doctrine and indicatives) and orthopraxy (conduct and imperatives).
In planting a church, we MUST begin with doctrine, or the church will destroy itself.
Christ is ALWAYS the foundation of the church. Church isn’t built on the power of men but the person and work of Christ. Build the Church on the foundation of Christ because the Church is His body. Herald His voice from His word. Look like Him, not the culture. Start at Christ. (1 Cor 15:1-11). Don’t assume Him – pursue, adore, be found in Him. Don’t move on from Him – always teach Him. Everything requires Christ. The way we unify the body is by lifting up Christ, not our differences. Understand Christ and what He’s done. THEN have clear convictions about doctrine. THEN partner not with those who have money but those who have the same message.
For example, when deciding on worship styles – don’t ask what style you prefer, but what magnifies Christ (not self, as preferences do).
The motivation for the imperatives in Ephesians 4 comes from the indicatives. Verses 1-3 is a building crescendo of who we are in Christ. 15-21 talks about how our election comes from Christ.
Scripture doesn’t say “Love one another and be my disciple,” but “love one another as a mark of being my disciple.” It isn’t our doing, but His.
The reason to be vehement about the FIC is because it glorifies Christ. Not what I think about men but what I think about Christ. Not about the family, but the family is a mechanism for teaching the gospel to the next generation.
Does your Church preach the gospel? Do they let you disciple your family? Then stay and pray. He will set that which is wrong, right.
After the conference ended we stayed around for a while talking with people, then went to our hosts’ home for dinner and fellowship.