Tuesday, June 9, 2009


What do you get when you put 3,000 Calvinists in the same room? A conference that was predestined to happen I guess. Last week I had the opportunity to attend Advance09 - a national conference on the resurgence of the local church. The conference was held right here in Durham, where close to 3,000 pastors, leaders, and future leaders descended upon the Durham Performing Arts Center. Speakers included Ed Stetzer, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Tyler Jones, John Piper, Eric Mason, and JD Greear. While each speaker had their own topic they were teaching, one message seemed to clearly rise from all of them: For any resurgence of the local church to happen, we must have Jesus at the center. We must preach Jesus. We must do what Jesus did. We must embrace what Jesus cares about.

Here are a few of the highlights for me:

Driscoll defined the church using these 8 marks. If all of these aren't present, then according to Driscoll, you aren't a church:
1) Regenerated church membership
2) Qualified leadership
3) Gathering for preaching
4) Sacraments rightly administered
5) Unified by the Spirit
6) Discipline for holiness (church discipline)
7) Obey the commandment to love one another (generosity)
8) Obey the great commission to evangelize and make disciples

Tyler Jones (Vintage21, Raleigh) talked about the church in decline. I really appreciated his kingdom minded heart. The primary point he made was that we need "long-term, active repentance. Not short-term, passive repentance." For Tyler this means that he has gone out of his way to undo the competitive spirit he once felt with other churches in his area. He has instead embraced churches, given them resources and encouragement, and developed friendships that are meaningful with other pastors.

Ed Stetzer was, in my opinion, the best speaker I heard at the event. His challenge was for us to embrace who we are, right now, as leaders and churches. He urged the 3,000 Driscollites to stop acting as if they were in Seattle and instead to embrace their own community, their own church body, and their own context. He reminded us of the fact that Scripture says the gates of hell will not be able to overcome the church. The gates, meaning, the church will march right into the darkest places and the forces of hell will not be able to hold us back! He made me laugh the most too, which is probably why I liked him so much. He doesn't seem to take himself so seriously.

Altogether, it was a good time. I feel pretty lucky that things like this are right here in my city. It allowed me the opportunity to bring my wife along for the ride as well. So that's always a good thing.

If you're interested in hearing the audio from the conference, you can find every session here.


You cracked me up with the opening line of this post! Ed Stetzer is an all-around quality guy!

Have you read "Re-Jesus" by Hirsch & Frost? The theme of the book is right along the lines of the conference. Great read!

I haven't read it yet. It's on my list though. I read "The Shaping of Things to Come" and I have "The Forgotten Ways" sitting here to read still too.

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