I had a great time at the Whiteboard Sessions last week. The last week has flown by since I have been so busy. I really haven’t had time to slow down and think through all the messages yet, but there were some great nuggets of truth shared. Here are some random thoughts.
- I read about the death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter right before the conference started and it weighed heavy on my mind throughout the entire conference. Apparently, I wasn’t alone – see here, here, and here. Here is a web page where you can see a video of Maria and share condolences with the family.
- I’m so glad Jennifer was able to go and meet some other pastor’s wives. They had a great luncheon get together and she was able to meet Ainsley and Jennifer. It was also good to meet up with Jennifer’s uncle and her cousins after the conference since we don’t get to see them very often.
- I was able to attend a blogger’s luncheon organized by Terrance Crawford and Clayton Bell. It was like a who’s who’s of Christian bloggers. I sat at a small table with Chris Elrod and Kyle Bridges and another great young guy from Mississippi. We were packed in pretty tight at Uno’s, so we really didn’t have a chance to get to talk to everybody, but it was still a great time to meet each other. Here’s a good list of the bloggers who were there.
- For me, the most powerful quote of the conference was by Ed Stetzer – it went something like this. “Conferences are like ministry pornography – they give you an unrealistic depiction of an experience you’ll never have.” Wow, think about that for a moment. How many times do we read books or see examples of ministries that God has incredibly blessed and then wonder why the same thing has not happened with us. Maybe if we stop trying to copy what God is doing somewhere else and start to seek what God wants to do where we are … which leads to another great quote.
- Perry Noble shared that we need preachers who get their messages and ministry through revelation, not imitation. Too many pastors are trying to copy what God is doing elsewhere. Do you see a theme developing yet? There seemed to be an emphasis from several of the speakers (though not all) to really seek out direction and guidance straight from God instead of the latest and greatest fad.
- Perry was able to really involve the audience and communicate. I really think as a preacher, he is one of the best communicators anywhere. He says things that most pastors are afraid of saying. Another Perryism, “Do you want to be a prophet of God or a prostitute of money?”. Say what God has put on your heart.
- Mark Batterson was the first speaker and he shared a great message about how our dreams are too small. I think his book, “In a Pit with a Lion” is one of the reasons I am full time in ministry right now. I was reading through his book right when I was faced with the decision about leaving my job. I tend to be cautious, guarded, and slow to move, but after reading it and thinking through how God was working in my life, I realized that I really only had one choice – complete and total obedience.
- Mark Dever represented the “tucked-in” generation as he so eloquently stated it. After he said that, I looked around and realized that there were no guys under 40 who had their shirt tucked in. The conference was mainly 30-40 year old pastors who gelled their hair, wore jeans and shirts from Buckle, and had at least one tattoo. Mark brought balance to the conference, and I really appreciate his doctrinal integrity, but I got the sense that he would struggle connecting to a younger congregation.
- Vince Antonucci has an incredible heart for evangelism, and he could get a job as a standup comedian on the side. He had a balance of both passion and humor throughout his message. His illustration about shark fishing really hit home with me. Even if we are catching tons of fish, are we being successful. Are we content with just catching fish (Christians from other churches), or do we really want to fish for sharks (non-Christians). When you go shark fishing, it will be messy, and it won’t be easy. He shared the statistic that only 2.2% of churches are seeing authentic conversion growth. Do you have a heart to seek and save God’s lost children? I just finished reading Vince’s book and I was literally laughing out loud through parts of the book. It’s a great and enjoying read to motivate us to reach the lost.
- Tim Stevens talked about leveraging the culture to be more effective. He shared quite a bit from his book Pop Goes the Church which I plan on reading in the next couple of weeks. He used several clips from a Desparate Housewives episode that showed one of the women really seeking God and trying to figure out church. I have to admit that it is one show that I have never watched, but the clips were very effective at making his point. That is the power of using pop culture. His big idea was either leverage the culture or risk losing your impact.
- Darrin Patrick shared about sin. Really, his talk was about sin and based on Romans 1, but it was powerful and he challenged all of us to really think about idols in our life. His main point was idolatry is the root of sin. When we elevate a sinful craving about the creator, then we are worshipping an idol. He went on to discuss root sins, the sin behind the sin.
- John Burke had a simple message – stay connected to the vine and fruit happens. This was the first time I have heard him speak, and I had mixed feelings after hearing him. I agreed with what he said at first, but as he got into his message I felt like he focused more on a model (his 60/60 experiment) and less on the main principle. I would still like to read his book, No Perfect People Allowed, but I really didn’t connect to his message like the other speakers.
- And finally Ed Stetzer wrapped up the conference. Every time I read a book he has written or hear him speak, I realize that he is a speaker that speaks the language of my heart. He just gets it. He has a passion for reaching the lost, but he hasn’t given up on the church like so many current authors have. I was expecting a message on contextualizing or contending for the faith, but he shared a message on working through doubt to faith based on Thomas. It was a great way to wrap up the conference and realize that ministry is not easy. God has not promised us our best and happy life, but he has promised us His peace. And that is all we need.