What a great event!
For the benediction Greg Hawkins had most of the fifteen pastors who spoke at the event come up for a special word to us. What struck me most about this line up of speakers was this: they weren't chosen because of their special speaking ability, for the national reknown of their church, or their charismatic personality - they were chosen because the empirical data revealed their churches to be some of the best in the country at making disciples. I found myself listening with extra intensity to what they shared about their ministry, their church, their best practices - they were sharing not so that they'd be invited back to the next conference, but because they were wholly devoted to being a disciple and making wholly devoted disciples. Very refreshing and inspiring.
The two sessions this afternoon were very different from each other. The first afternoon session had two very different parts to it: the first included an interview with Eric, the guy who was the brains behind the REVEAL implementation, and with two of his clients from the marketplace.
Takeaways from their input: accept the data (facts are your friends!), make compelling change (no half-hearted stuff), the senior leader has to support it 100%. Jump in with both feet, look for long-term results, and be innovative in making disciples - make it work within the realities that you are immersed in.
The second part of the session included a panel of pastors who shared how their churches were working through the current (and extended) economic hardships.
Takeaways from their insights: economic hardships ought to be a spiritual formation opportunity; tithing in the hard times reveals what you believe about God's provision for you, churches are never immune from the economic realities of their members - churches need to be prepared to weather the hardships, and to prepare their members.
The last session of the day was spent with John Ortberg. His words were nourishment for the soul. He asked us: are we focused on making better Christians or more disciples?
Takeaways: people move from being a stranger to Jesus to an admirer of Jesus, and some then become a follower. But what often happens is that people move from being an admirer of Jesus to a User of Jesus. Usually Jesus is used as a way to get into heaven when they die.
John noted three different kinds of faith: public faith - what we want others to think we believe; private faith - what we think we believe; and then core faith - what we actually believe. How do you know what is your core belief? Your actions reveal what you actually believe.
The Bible doesn't teach us that we should trust Jesus in order to get into Heaven; rather the Bible reveals that to trust Jesus is to believe to the core of us that He is right about everything and thus we act accordingly.
According to Dallas Willard, Life Transformation comes from Vision, Intentionality, and Means. We must have a vision of God that causes us to intentionally take action using means/methods to experience that kind of life with God.
And: only the love of God secures the vision of God.
Finally: no one can become a disciple because you think you should; you have to want it.