Monday, October 16, 2006

Spiritual Leadership Conference

You will notice a huge gap in our blogging. This is mainly because of my working 40-50 hours a week (Sorry, but Sunday School and Wednesday nights are kind of priority over this :-) ) and Jon’s trying to complete a lot of grad work this semester. Pray for both of us as we are involved in ministries in our respective churches and desire to be used of God to see souls saved, and believers discipled and built up in the faith.

Saturday, a good friend from school (he also goes to my church on extension) and I both got up incredibly early so that we could go down from Watertown, WI to Bethel Baptist Church’s first Spiritual Leadership Conference. With speakers lined up such as Rand Hummel (The WILDS), Dr. Chuck Phelps (Trinity Baptist Church; Concord, NH), Dr. Sam Horn (Brookside Baptist Church; Brookfield, WI), and many others from around the area and Bethel Baptist’s own church staff, we were very excited about the prospect of getting to be in a conference where we could sit under the teaching of men of God who have labored for many years within Baptist Fundamentalism and have had very successful ministries as they have labored in love for their congregations.

The opening general session was preached by Dr. Chuck Phelps. He preached about a Worry-filled life or a Word-filled life. This was an excellent message to hear about the sin of worry/ anxiety. Not only did he rehearse all that I had read in the past from MacArthur’s book, Anxiety Attacked, but he also brought to light some passages that illustrated these truths for us from the Gospel of John.

The first workshop we went to was titled, “Public school, Christian school, or Home school- Which is right?” I very much appreciated Dr. Phelps’ presentation on the need for Christian schools, not as reformers for those who’ve been kicked out of public schools or other Christian schools, but rather as a tool to help build up a local church as an aid to the parents, not the end all raising of the children for the parents. I very much appreciated how he shared with us how their Christian school was run, as well as the dynamic of having over 200 Christian school children, about 60 children in public schools, and about 60 children that were homeschooled. To keep such things harmonious within a church’s youth group, he shared some things that I thought were incredibly helpful. The first thing he shared was the youth pastor was not involved in any of the discipline that took place within the Christian school. For some, this may sound like a radical idea, but I appreciated the wisdom in this as it keeps the youth pastor with a “white hat” so to speak whenever the children see him. Though he might be informed about discipline matters, when the kids come to youth group on Wednesday night or sit in his Sunday School class, there is no need for a child to worry about whether or not the youth pastor’s view of him or her is skewed by his involvement with discipline that was needed for the child. One other thing I liked was that he said that in church, he doesn’t push any of the activities of the Christian school. He only announces activities for the Christian school twice a year- Free Day Trial (where parents and children who do not attend are allowed to sit in on classes and see what the school is like) and graduation. Otherwise, he leaves it up the Parent/Teacher/ Student bulletins that those involved in the Christian school get every Friday to take care of Christian school activity announcements. One last thing he does, demonstrating the importance of the church’s youth pastor, is that the youth pastor is in charge of the church/ school calendar. So, if a sports event is submitted on a day when the youth pastor is wanting to plan a retreat for the kids, he wins out EVERY TIME. At first I thought that perhaps this was bad as someone could very much abuse it, but any privlege can be abused, if not careful. This would certainly be best for a church with the schooled dynamics that they have so that the youth pastor isn’t wondering how many of the youth group might be able to attend something due to a sporting event, etc.

The second workshop that we went to was done by one of the pastors at Bethel Baptist Church who oversees much of the counseling ministry that the church has. The workshop was titled “The ABC’s of Counseling.” This was very helpful to me as it helped me to see some ways that I could improve my counseling ministry with the teens at my church and stay focused on the things that really matter in counseling situations.

Lunch was excellent. With a giant tortilla on the plate, we were able to design our own wraps with the various meats and lettuce, cheeses, and other toppings to our own liking.

After lunch, was the third workshop time, in which we went to hear about a ministry called “Reformer’s Unanimous”, which is headed up by a man named Steve Currington. His testimony is phenominal in how the Lord took him out of a life of alcohol dependancy and gave him a ministry in helping unsaved people break addictive problems and Christians break “stubborn habits” (”Afterall,” he sarcastically stated, “Christians don’t have addictions, do we? We have what we prefer to call ’stubborn habits,’ which are really just various forms of other addictions.”). He shared with us the ten biblical principles that his ministry uses in helping to break sinful addictions and “stubborn” habits.

After this workshop, we got to hear Dr. Sam Horn exposite the word on the subject of Grace and how Grace is not a liberty for sinful living, but a liberty for godly living.

All in all, I can’t wait to go down there again next year. It was too bad that my pastor and his son were unable to go down with us as my pastor was in need for a funeral service on Saturday. However, I’m looking forward, Lord willing, to being able to go down with them next year. Hopefully, they will keep this conference open and unthemed, just letting each of the men involved in the speaking taking what God lays on their hearts to help those of us who are lay leaders in ministry.