Reflections on The Gospel Coalition, Band of Bloggers, and Piper-Carson

carsonWhew.  It’s been quite a week.  Here’s my first opportunity to reflect on the three events I was involved with.

The Gospel Coalition

Ben Peays did a tremendous job with this conference.  It went off without a hitch.  The speakers all edified their audience and honored the Lord.  I personally enjoyed the panel discussion on Wednesday night the most.  I would commend that to all of you.  I love panel discussions when they’re done well.  Piper had a number of comments that cut me to the core.   I enjoyed Mark Driscoll’s very personal talk on Tuesday night.  Keller’s talk on exposing idols in preaching was first-rate.  Carson had very helpful comments on the limits of contextualization.  Piper demonstrated how to ground one’s preaching in the text.

TGC was excellent, and I am confident that many ministries were strengthened by it.  3300 people attended from all over the world. It was great to make many new friends and share fellowship with total strangers.  A number of times, I found myself connecting with total strangers who sat next to me in a session.  A little taste of heaven in the Stephens Conference Center.

I found myself with a new perspective on it and other events like it.  It’s very important not to attend to listen to superstar preaching or something like that.  It’s best to go, seek to learn from wise pastors, and keep God clearly in your sights.  I was reminded while at the conference how easy it is to get carried away by the excitement of such an event.  Better to be grateful for it (as I am) and keep a solid perspective.  The work of the local church is the engine of the kingdom.  It’s not high-profile, it’s often not appreciated or celebrated, but it is the foundation of our work for our Savior on this earth.

Praise God for raising up Don Carson, Tim Keller and others and allowing them to lead many churches in a gospel-centered, theologically robust, doctrinally reformed, culturally savvy direction.  May the work go far to the greater glory of our God.

Band of Bloggers

On Wednesday, I stood in for Timmy Brister as the host of the third annual Band of Bloggers gathering.  I was sorry that Timmy couldn’t attend, but family obligations necessitated that he care for his family.  Timmy’s cutting-edge vision drove this event.  Though he planned the conference from thousands of miles away (with the help of Ben Peays), he did a tremendous job.  He secured excellent speakers, a good lunch, and a bunch of books for all attendees.  Thank you, Timmy, for letting me be a part of the event–I look forward to seeing what the Lord does in and through you in days to come, brother.

I won’t go into the event details, but seven leading bloggers spoke on the theme of “Servants and Stewards”.  Each of them made a unique contribution.  I liked all of them, from my buddy Mike Anderson’s encouragement to “not be a hater”, to Steve McCoy’s entertaining thoughts on the arts and blogging, to Tony Reinke’s excellent and moving words on stewarding the wisdom of the ages.  After the seven guys spoke for seven minutes apiece, we had a panel discussion that was fun and funny.  Check the site for the audio–it’s well worth a download and a listen.

Piper-Carson at Park Community Church

The photo above is from last night’s Henry Center-sponsored event at Park Community Church in Chicago, IL.  With our title sponsor BibleMesh, we were grateful to be able to bring John Piper and Don Carson to speak on the topics “The Pastor as Scholar” and “The Scholar as Pastor”.  The high-definition video will be up ASAP at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and the Henry Center–check there in the next few days.

Praise God for how this event played out.  A huge thank-you to our speakers, John Piper and Don Carson, who despite being tired put in absolutely excellent, God-glorifying work.  Thanks to my friend David Mathis for making this whole happen.  Thanks to the Park staff (senior pastor Jackson Crum, Joe Riccardi, JR Kerr, Jason Widney, Joseph Tenney, the talented Tim Schraeder, and the amazing Whitney Anderson) for making everything go so well.  By the grace of God, the crowd maxed out Park’s seating capacity (roughly 1600 people).  Make sure you watch the videos when they come out; here are Twitter comments from the event, many of them very encouraging.

I was so thankful for Desiring God’s Lukas Naugle and his exceptional team.  They do everything well.  Thank you, Lukas.  Ben Peays provided friendship and excellent counsel to me.  Tommy Lee helped set things up.  Andy Naselli did a great job, as always, with the live-blog. Thanks to Justin Taylor and Zach Nielsen, among others, for getting the word out through blogs.  Ryan Fields, Josh Gregersen, and Seth Richarson, Henry Center interns, worked tirelessly the whole week and did an incredible job.  Jeff DeGracia, Dave Dewit, James Kinnard and Barnabas Piper, and Willie Mackenzie all partnered with us as sponsors.  Please check out the list of books featured at the event at the end of this event to honor our sponsors, to whom we are grateful.

Most of all, thanks to Doug Sweeney for providing the vision of the pastor-theologian that drove this event.  Doug not only teaches this vision, he models it.  Thank you, Doug.  I am grateful to you for all that you do for the church of our Lord, and I look forward to seeing how He uses Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word (IVP, out in July 2009) to raise up a generation of pastor-theologians whose hearts are set ablaze to bring the riches of theology to the ministry of His glorious gospel.

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And with that, the summary is concluded.  Thanks for reading, and may the Lord be pleased with the work of our hands.  Thank you, Lord, for letting dust like us do things for your renown.

Check out these links from our intrepid sponsors:

BibleMesh–online discipleship tool, full site coming very soon.

Moody Press–excellent publishing house currently putting out a ton of great books for the younger crowd; check out He Is Not Silent for three highly stimulating chapters on “The Pastor as Theologian”.  Al Mohler is a superb guide on these issues, and this book will help pastors to preach the Word faithfully.

CrosswayAdopted for Life is a must-read by one of our most provocative and influential theologians, Russ Moore.

Christian FocusFinally Alive by John Piper and Faith on Trial by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones are must-reads.

Coffee Ambassadorsdelicious coffee with a kingdom focus.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Reflections on The Gospel Coalition, Band of Bloggers, and Piper-Carson

  1. Owen,

    Thanks for the many, many hours of labor that you poured into preparing and executing last week–BofB, Pastor/Scholar event, etc. You served all of us very, very well.

    Yours gratefully,

    JT

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