May 26, 2006

Reform and Resurge 1

Category: Theology - Ecclesiology :: Permalink

A couple weeks ago, I attended the Reform and Resurge conference hosted by Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

The drive took about eight hours, during which time I learned that I can handle only about six to ten songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival in a row, whereas I can listen to Roy Orbison over and over again. I also heard the new CD by Dion (formerly of Dion and the Belmonts, back in the ’60s), entitled Bronx in Blue. World had reviewed it and one of the men in the church had picked it up, but what World didn’t mention was that the lyrics of several songs (and particularly one by Robert Johnson) were full of suggestive double entendres. Still, it was a fairly good collection, and a good historical overview of early blues.

I particularly enjoyed a CD of hymns by Martin Luther, borrowed from my in-laws. Their CD of the Psalms of Scotland by the Scottish Philharmonic Singers was okay, but I kept wishing that they would speed up. They sing all of the songs at about half the speed they ought to. No wonder so many people today have no taste for psalm singing!

I arrived in Seattle fairly late in the evening, where I met up with Mark Horne, who was staying at the same place I was. It was good to see Mark again, and also to spend some time with Dan and Sharon Dillard. Dan is the pastor of the OPC up the road from me in Bend, Oregon.

The conference started on Tuesday morning with a time of singing. Throughout the conference, the singing, led by Mars Hill’s worship pastor, was acoustic in the morning and electric at night. I particularly appreciated the cello. The songs were largely hymns and gospel songs, not the usual praise and worship stuff, but it did sound a bit like the kind of music you’d find on a worship album by Wilco.

The first lecture was by Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey in St. Louis, Missouri, and was entitled “The Life and Death of a Missional Leader.” The greatest challenge church planters and pastors face, Patrick said, is themselves: “Ministry will kill you.” He presented a number of stats relating to pastoral burnout, which you can find in this blog entry by Mark Driscoll, which is worth reading itself for some helpful stuff on avoiding burnout.

It often appears as if a lot of men fall away from the Lord and from the ministry. The truth, however, is different: “No one falls away from God. They walk away, one step at a time.” They keep hitting unexpected bumps, which are intended to reveal things in their character that they need to work on — but they don’t. Instead of “counting it all joy” when they fall into trials because of what those trials will produce, they focus on the pain and get disillusioned with God and His church.

But trials, Patrick said, are God’s way of teaching us about our own hearts. What matters most to us: His glory or our low-maintenance, hassle-free, designer lives? Trials tip over our idols. They force us to move from “independence” to dependence. They make us weak so that God can reveal His power through us.

How can you tell if you’re responding rightly to those trials? If you’re responding wrongly, you’ll tend not to like people. You’ll withdraw from God and from your family and from the church members and from others. But if you’re responding rightly, you’ll have compassion for others in their trials and be able to comfort them with the comfort you’ve received (2 Cor. 1).

The lecture was a great start to the conference and a great encouragement to me.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:12 pm | Discuss (0)

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