As to be expected, this years Shepherds’ Conference was great, and it focused on the prime responsibilities of the church which are being clouded by a wide array of church growth strategies. I was fortunate enough to listen to a few sessions through the live feed, which was real treat.
The concern of this conference is to examine and challenge the contemporary church’s lopsided attention to meeting the culture at the expense of the universality of the transforming message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
MacArthur kicks off with a look at what a church is, and compares today’s church growth movement with God’s church growth movement recorded in the church in Acts. An excellent, and even fearful, look at how God designed the church to function.
Rick Holland picked up the baton and examined lessons we need to learn from Nadab and Abihu, that those who approach God in leadership must approach God as a holy God. Phil Johnson looked at how Jesus and Paul engaged the culture in light of contemporary evangelicals focusing on trying to find ground for conversation and not confrontation as the New Testament outlines.
Steve Lawson brought out the big stick and hammered home the power and sufficiency of Scripture, and reinforced the truth that preachers are nothing without the power of Scripture at work behind them.
MacArthur did a Q&A.
Al Mohler trumpets the concern that we have lost the concept that Scripture is a matter of life and death, and have traded it for something far less and profane. He looks at what true preaching entails, as exemplified by Ezra. A true preacher must engage in exposition (read the text and explain it), and then apply that to the people. He focuses his message on Deuteronomy 4, and calls preachers to the urgency that exists for the church to recover true preaching as a matter of life and death.
MacArthur delivered two messages which his elders said were the two most important messages he preached the previous year. The first looked at Jesus’ words that pointed to the end of Judaism, which had deteriorated into a completely ungodly system. He concluded the conference by looking at the word ‘dulas’ in the New Testament which should be correctly translated ‘slave’, and shows how we have lost meaning by softening that term with the terms ‘servant’ or ‘bondservant,’ which according to MacArthur, is a tragedy in Bible translation.
This is a very important conference for church leaders to listen to carefully and examine their ministries under it’s light. The ramifications of missing the mark in ministry is not something to be taken lightly.