Monday, April 30, 2007

On Conferences

Every now and then I attend a pastor's conference of some sort. I usually pick ones that are outside of my normal circle of influence because I want to be exposed to something that will make me think and interact with ideas that I may not have come across elsewhere. Of course, I know some think you should only go to "fundamental conferences." And some give you "the look" when they hear where you went. (I got "the look" recently ... at least I think I did.)

I attended such a conference this past week which proved to be interesting. The track I was in was a less than I expected. It was pretty "bottom level" stuff that perhaps would be good for someone who has little exposure to ministry. There were other tracks that I would have rather taken, if I had been given the opportunity. The interaction with other pastors was enlightening however. And enjoyable.

The best presentations were one on small groups and one on evangelism. They both tended towards the "nuts and bolts" end of things, which was helpful. Quite frankly, I am not all that interested in picking up theology at most of these conferences. I am more interested in picking up ideas and more importantly, seeing how other places do things.

Here's the danger of these kinds of conferences: They can lead to franchising the church. I think I have mentioned that elsewhere (though perhaps I meant to and never got around to it). Making hamburgers is the same in every city. Building churches is not.

A "best practices" kind of conference is dangerous because what is a "best practice" in one place or culture might not be in another. Furthermore, best practices are focused too often on pragmatism. "We did it and grew to 56,000 members in just five weeks" is not a good warrant for adopting a technique. For a church planter or pastor to try to wholesale implement somenoe else's vision or technique could be very damaging.

It also may tends towards self-reliance or organizational reliance rather than Spirit dependence. Such an approach may draw a crowd, but it will have a hard time building a church.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the two days was listening to these men defend their view of elder government. Trying to figure out the distinctions drawn between kinds of elders and whether or not they are on the elder board or not was ... well ... confusing. If I will be persuaded to elder rule, it will take a great deal more than was offered in these conversations.


Chris Anderson said...

Where'd you go?

Larry said...

Sure, sure ... You are just trying to find out so you can preach against me this week.

I actually thought about you while I was there. There was someone taking pictures pointing their camera down my row. I am worried my picture may show up on some blog.

It was during the music. Fortunately, I think I got my hands down before the picture was snapped. I thought about hiding behind Joe Stowell, but he was on the other side of me.

Chris Anderson said...

You know me: I'm always looking for a good sermon illustration. I appreciate you, man, but a good friendship always bows to a good sermon illustration.

Now, you didn't exactly answer my question, "Slippery Man."

And BTW, don't think "elder rule." Think "plurality of elders."

Greg Linscott said...

Did someone say pictures? :D

Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


Maybe you would be interested in these 2 conferences/lecture series!

Andrew Fuller the Reader


Art and Soul: Spirituality and the Aesthetic

Many blessings...

Allen Mickle

Anonymous said...

Wanna buy some pictures?