Have you been watching the countdown on the TOGETHER FOR THE GOSPEL blog with great anticipation? http://www.t4g.org/blog/ The long awaited T$G Conference is next week. Hooray!!! (OOPS! I was typing capital letters and forgot to take my finger off the shift button when I typed the "4" in "T4G"… Why is the dollar sign located just above the number 4 on the computer keyboard? Hmmm……) In honor of this important occasion on the New Calvinists' calendar, here's a re-post of our June 11, 2009 article. We will have more commentary on "Together for the Gospel" tomorrow…
As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, we’d like to say that we have attended many conferences over the years, and we have often found them beneficial. Therefore, we are not slamming all Christian conferences per se. However, in recent years it appears that the Christian community is becoming addicted to conferences. Why would that be a problem if these conferences are promoting Christian principles?
Here are our specific concerns about this trend.
Conferences are expensive!
We gave you an idea of what some Christian conferences cost in the previous post. Here’s another example. If you choose to attend the Together for the Gospel Conference next April, here’s what a ticket will cost you (link is provided):
- Early Bird Registration – $199
October 31, 2009
- Student Registration* – $99
March 28, 2010
- General Registration – $249
March 28, 2010
Remember: the cost does not include food, lodging, and transportation. Because this 2-1/2 day conference is geared toward pastors, we wonder who will be paying the expenses related to attending this event — the pastor or the church? It’s a legitimate question. Secondly, how are the conference proceeds allocated? How much are the speakers earning and how much of the profit will go to missions? The sale of books is also a BIG DEAL at Together for the Gospel. It’s very convenient that the authors of these books have a captive audience at the conference. The same questions could be asked of other types of conferences.
Conferences elicit a personality cult
Have you noticed that certain Christian leaders are achieving rock star status, often through these conferences? It’s incredible that an attendee would walk up to a “Reformed Big Dog” and ask him to sign his
There’s a sense of idolatry at these conferences with attendees hanging onto every word of their icons. Paul warned against this in 1 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV) when he wrote: “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task.” We should
When a personality cult develops, the icon begins to believe he is who his devotees say he is. They begin to believe their own press, which leads to pride. Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently addressed the students with some powerful words. He said, “Few things contribute to ministerial demise as much as personal ambition. If you’re lifting yourself up from the pulpit, week after week, you’re inevitably putting Jesus down. . . . Being content with what God gives is vital to avoiding the sin of unbridled greed, another snare for ministers. Just as Paul warned against the love of money in the passage, it is important for ministers of the Gospel to not love anything more than the Lord, and to not serve anything but God.” Here’s the link if you want to read more:
Conferences can lead to authoritarianism
When these Christians leaders are heralded as almost being Christ-like, they often develop an authoritarian nature. They begin to believe they should be in authority over their subjects. How sad when this occurs because it marginalizes the priesthood of the believers.
Recently, on SGM Refuge the question was asked about whether Sovereign Grace churches allow Bible studies. Quite a few former members of SGM responded, along with a few current members, and the consensus was that organized Bible studies are NOT allowed in SGM churches. Some confessed that they would secretly enroll in Bible studies at other churches or participate in non-denominational Bible studies in order to study God’s Word because it wasn’t offered in SGM. How sad that church members with the gift of teaching are not allowed to exercise those gifts to benefit the fellowship of believers and to bring glory to God. Apparently, only SGM pastors and Care Group Leaders are allowed to teach, and from what we understand they are teaching primarily from the books that are sold in the SGM bookstore. The pursuit of God’s truth is our primary aim in operating this blog, so if anyone has personal knowledge about this matter, please let us know.
One week ago today, Mark Driscoll spoke on “What is the Church?” at the Desiring God Advance ’09 Conference. Toward the end of his message, he made the following remarks with regard to reaching out to those who do not know Jesus Christ:
“Hospitality is welcoming strangers . . . If people (church members) aren’t bringing people to church, there’s probably one of two reasons. (1) You have Sunday school or (2) You don’t talk about Jesus every Sunday.”
Mark labeled Sunday school as “koinonitis” which means “a condition where the church gets so enamored with being together it forgets its mission.”
He had much more to say about this matter, and he concluded with these comments:
“Get rid of Sunday school to increase the attractional nature of your ministry. . . . Look, I’m sure the seven people who go to it (Sunday school) at your church love it.”
Tsk,tsk, Mark. Read your whole Bible. In fact, exactly what did Jesus say before He ascended into heaven? First, we are to go into all of the earth telling His story and making disciples. Secondly, we are to teach them everything He had commanded. Not just a few things, Mark. Everything!
Mark Noll wrote a book a decade ago called The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. His basic premise is that Christians have become stupid. They can quote the Bible but do not know how to apply it to the arts, business, and medicine. In fact, nothing much has changed in the last decade. Even Bill Hybels said he made a mistake with the wildly “successful” Willow Creek. He had a church full of Christians who know “squat” about the faith. They were an inch deep and a mile wide!
Why would Mark Driscoll want churches to eliminate Sunday school? His reasons are spurious and stupid. I have taken lots of people to church with me. On those days I either skip the Sunday school or church. (Mark may find it incredulous, but there are actually Sunday school classes that are often far more interesting than boring worship services!) Also, classes that are intriguing attract far more than “seven” people. I know because I led such a class.
Could there be a hidden agenda? How about keeping the masses ignorant so the Calvinistas can tell them what the Bible “really says….according to their own narrow interpretation. ”A stupid crowd is an easily led crowd.” It’s kind of like the racists of old. “Don’t want to give ‘em no education, you know. They’ll jus’ get uppity.”
Without the availability of Sunday school classes, people will have more time to read all of those wonderful books written by Mark Driscoll and the Calvinistas (of course, they have to buy them first!) and listen to all those messages proclaimed by the leaders “of Calvin”. We acknowledge that many messages they provide via the internet are free of charge, but in our view those are the bait to reel ‘em into the Calvinista movement.
Here’s our prediction… After Sunday school has been abolished in churches, Mark Driscoll will suggest the establishment of “Care Groups” or “Community Groups” like they have at
Conferences and everything that goes with them create a DEPENDENCY, which results in lots of dough! We can’t help but ask: “What would Jesus do?”