Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Right Now Conference

Last week, I attended The Right Conference in Irving. I heard some amazing preachers, got some new ideas, and just plain got refreshed. Here are some quotes I wrote down:

"Spiritual leadership is walking with Jesus and taking others along with you. Pastors burn out because they start out walking with Jesus and end up working for Jesus."

--Pete Briscoe, Pastor of Bent Tree Fellowship in Carrolton

"Whenever we are envious of another person’s ministry, we downplay the effects of the Holy Spirit in their success. We say things like, “They’re only growing because they water down the Gospel.” That implies that if they really preached the Gospel, they wouldn’t grow! Are we that different from the Pharisees, when they said Jesus cast out demons because He was a demon Himself?"

"Don’t expect God to come into the occasional if you reject Him in the continuous."

--JR Vassar, Pastor of Apostles Church in New York City

"God’s solution to a hurting world is the compassion of His people. Compassion is our finest apologetic."

--Max Lucado, speaker and author

"Matthew 16:19 says Jesus gave us the keys to the Kingdom. You can't use the world's keys to do the church's work, anymore than you can use a key from a Marriot to get into a room in the Hilton. But if we use Kingdom Keys, we cannot be stopped."

--Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.

I especially enjoyed a breakout session with Matt Carter, pastor of Austin Stone Community Church. I had heard of the church, since some of our former members who now live in Austin attend there. Just for background, the church was started in 2002. Well-known Christian artist Chris Tomlin was the worship leader for a while, but has since moved on. Their weekly average attendance is now around 6000, with about half of those being college students. His breakout session was about reaching people in their 20s and 30s. The first thing he said is that there is no formula. But there are certain principles they have discovered for reaching this age group:

1. Lift high the name of Jesus. Before every service, they pray, “I want you to be exalted, Lord.” Make Jesus the star of everything you do.

2. Preach expositionally—This generation wants the Word, they want to be challenged. In a survey, members said the number one reason they stay at the church is the preaching, teaching and doctrine.

3. Transparency is huge for this generation—be honest about your own struggles.

4. Teach the Gospel, not “ten tips for a happier life.”

5. Help them get on mission. This generation hates injustice and wants to do something about it. Second biggest reason people stay at this church is that they find they can make a difference in the world through the church.

6. Worship must be God-centered. Make sure your worship leaders know how to lead worship, not just be good musicians.

7. Don’t be political. Teach the Word and let that stuff take care of itself.

8. Invest in the people God brings you. Don't just tell them about the programs your church has; Pour yourself into them, mentor them, help them find their place. People are more important than programs.

9. Redefine success for your small groups. Make them into missional communities.

This term "missional communities" is a new one for me, but apparently it is an emerging trend in church work (try googling "missional communities" and you'll see what I mean). Apparently, it's a group of people who rally around ministry and witness to a particular demographic group or pocket of a city. I am going to have to do more research on this idea, because it might be a "next step" in our church becoming more externally focused.

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