Right now I’m at Grace Community Church for the Shepherd’s Conference. There are close to 4,000 men here with me, many of them coming from out of state to be here. This is a unique time for me– I’ve never been a major conference, and in the next month-and-a-half I’ll have gone to Shepherd’s Conference, The Gospel Coalition Conference, and the Regional Desiring God Conference, so hopefully I’ll be able to offer a nice compare and contrast at the end. Here are some of my initial impressions:
1. They do it right. Maybe this is normal for a big-time conference like this, but here at Shepherd’s you get what you paid for and more. There is an endless supply of food, snacks, sodas, and waters, constantly circulating the premises. Fresh fruit, water bottles, and candy stands. There’s a smoothie machine, four shoe-shiners ready to clean you up, and a barber for those who need a trim. For lunch we were given Stonefire Grill– steak, bbq chicken, rolls, and garlic mashed potatoes. We get several books tomorrow and a gift card for $50 at the bookstore.
2. Love & Truth. I attended a break-out session called Radical? The Mystique of the Modern Day Monk, by Jonathan Rourke. Apparently the title of the message struck a chord because the room was packed. Grown men were sitting on the floor against the wall. The message was a critique of David Platt’s massively popular clarion call to radical Christian sacrifice, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
The thinking behind such a break-out session is that such a popular book that has sold thousands (millions?) needs to be examined and critiqued, especially because its made its way into almost every church.
Anyway, the seminar was a great blend of love and truth. Rourke has a special ability to teach serious things with a sense of humor. It was very clear that Rourke was not trying to pick a fight– he made very clear from the get-go that he and Platt are on the same team, that Platt’s message is a necessary one for the American church, and that the main disagreements were ones of imbalance. He delicately pointed out the points of contention and then provided biblical teaching that allowed us to weigh them against Scripture. I walked away appreciating Rourke’s caution, appreciating Platt’s passion, and a better understanding of how to help people think through this groundswell of books promoting radical Christianity.
These kinds of plenary sessions make it apparent that the major concern at this conference is precision. Handling truth with accuracy. I appreciate that.
More tomorrow. Maybe.