My church, Colonial Baptist Church, in conjunction with Shepherds Theological Seminary (which I am attending), recently concluded their first annual national church leaders’ conference. The theme was, “Christ and our changing culture,” and the speakers included names such as Al Mohler, Gene Getz, Erwin Lutzer, Rick Holland, Greg Gilbert, and Stephen Davey. An excerpt of the website description reads:
We live in what may be one of the most challenging cultural contexts experienced by God’s people. Frankly, our culture isn’t so much post-modern anymore as it is pre-Christian. And as our pre-Christian culture sheds any remnants of Judeo-Christian roots, the role of the pastor is becoming increasingly challenging… How do we serve and lead in such a culture, braving the effects of a growing marginalization and antipathy?… Some leaders will choose not to think too seriously about culture—assuming all is well; others will attempt to evade their culture and try to stay out of harms way; still others will attempt to embrace culture and thus forfeit the distinctives of the gospel.
In my previous post, I talked about Al Mohler’s opening session to the conference. In this post, I thought I would just give a couple of notes and quotes from some of the sessions throughout the day.
Dr. Welch is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. He threw everyone off by starting out saying that our goal needs to be to have an imbalance in life… That imbalance is that you must learn to love more than you are loved.
He talked about how we often hear that marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100. That works great if you understand that it means that your responsibility is always to give everything you’ve got in the relationship. But what usually happens is that people take it to mean that we need to be contributing equal amounts of effort to the relationship. Well what about the day my wife only brings 99%, or 85% to our marriage? Well then naturally you tend to recalibrate what you’re bringing because there’s supposed to be symmetry, right? No! You love first and you love most… We must learn to care about giving love more than we care about receiving it… When my wife only gives 43%, I continue to give 100% of myself. In this life, we will constantly experience rejection, but we must love with everything we are, whether we receive it back or not… Because that’s exactly what Christ does.
“Jesus loved first, and most.”
“It is God’s will that you experience rejection.”
“If you walk the path of the Messiah, you will know rejection.”
Dr. Smith serves as Professor of Christian Preaching at Beeson Divinity School.
Some quotes I especially liked:
“Persecution produces proclamation.”
“God is not ultimately identified in His work, but in His word.”
“The bible does not need to be adjusted, it just needs to be trusted.”
“If your preaching does not magnify Christ, it is not expository, and it is not God-honoring.”
Dr. Al Potter:
Welcome to STS
Dr. Potter serves as vice-president of advancement, and adjunct professor of pastoral theology at Shepherds Theological Seminary, where I attend. Dr. Potter has over forty years of experience in ministry, and is awesome. On the second day of the conference, Dr. Potter spoke to a group of pastors and prospective students interested in knowing more about STS. He explained a bit about the mission and focus of STS, and introduced some of the faculty. One thing he said about the seminary that I liked was,
“We are not here simply to advance the intellect, but to transform the personality.”
Worship and Culture: Mirror or Beacon?
Dr. Hallquist serves as the worship pastor at Colonial Baptist Church. He discussed the history of the “worship wars,” and the pitfalls of both sides, as well as the struggle to have music that is excellent, but not so culturally influenced that it no longer resembles true worship to God.
“Worship is offering that which is pleasing to God.”
“The goal is not to enjoy worship; the goal is to enjoy God.”
Drones, Clones & Genomes, Oh My! — Shepherding the 21st Century Church
Andrew Potter is the Chief Academic Officer at Envision, one of the nations leading college and career readiness organizations. In his workshop, he talked about the advance of modern technology and the ethical implications Christians must earnestly consider. He said that nano-technology is the future of technology. He talked about gene-driving, where the genome is reorganized or remapped; this can be used to make someone immune to things such as Ebola (the Ebola genome was successfully mapped about 2 weeks ago). However, this can also potentially be used to weaponize diseases like that as well. It was mind-boggling to hear him discuss insanely complex, unthinkable genetic and genomic modifications that are happening right now, (and more that are possible in the near future).
He discussed the future of cloning, and talked about the moral implications of cloning and what it means to be human. He made a great observation about the moral contradictions people make in discussing the ethical aspects of cloning. For instance, a serious question that people are struggling with right now is: if a clone could successfully be made of, say, me, the question then is, who owns the clone (me, or the manufacturers)? Potter said this question actually betrays a presupposition about the nature of humanity, because it assumes that the clone does not have the same value as me. Another way people show this assumption is that most people assume that clones will be used for the purpose of growing matching organs, so that if my lungs begin to fail, for instance, I can then take the lungs from my clone and have perfectly healthy lungs again. The moral conundrum of course is, am I then killing another human being in this scenario? Potter said though that it is interesting to note that no one thinks that I should be killed to give my lungs to the clone if its lungs stop working correctly. There is an innate sense of both humanness (that excludes clones), and the sanctity of life.
Potter made the excellent point that, though technology in itself is not morally good or evil, “Every time you use technology, you are making moral decisions.”