Saturday, April 02, 2011

Elephant Room Conference - March 2011

This past Thursday I was blessed to be part of the Elephant Room Conference (along with good friend Brenton Balvin).  It was an interesting experience, and one that I think I will be processing for a while.  I brought my laptop to take notes, but as the conference started it became clear that I wouldn't take a lot of notes, but rather would just sit and enjoy the dialog.  Most of the notes I took were witty quips and one-liners.  Below is a an intro clip for the event as well as the questions that were being debated, along with just a very few of my own notes interspersed.  The debaters/pastors were James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Greg Laurie, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, and David Platt.

The Elephant Room from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

Elephant Room Conference Note – 3/31/2011

Preaching to Build the Attendance vs. Preaching to Build the Attendees
Matt Chandler and Steve Furtick

Is the goal of the weekend sermon evangelism or sanctification? Is it biblically legitimate to plan a whole series for reaching seekers? Is preaching to "felt needs" the opposite of "preaching the Word" or can they work together? What does it mean to "preach the Word" and how do we know we have done it? If we have failed to preach the "whole counsel of God," what topics will we likely have avoided? Is the message helped or hindered by a marketing package? When is the shaping of a series an access point for people and when has the "package" become a distraction?
Furtick –Seek & save that which is lost, Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy.
Chandler – Jesus’ parable of seed on the soil.  I’ve seen life kick people in the soul and they need greater depth.  Can’t stay in the kiddie pool forever.
Furtick – both hear and do the Word to reach people far from God.  Philemon 6
Chandler – the pulpit drives the church!
Laurie – If a church does not evangelize it will fossilize.
Furtick – we don’t feed them so they get fat, we feed them so they do the Word.

Unity: Can't We All Get Along? vs. Discernment: My Way or the Highway
Steven Furtick and James MacDonald

What criteria should decide whom a pastor publicly endorses/partners with? When do my associations negate the orthodoxy of my own ministry? Is there ever a time to publicly critique another pastor? Is sincerity enough to draw my endorsement? When does my energy over non-essentials limit and isolate my fruitfulness?

MacDonald – everyone needs to yield to the Truth.  Shoot the wolves.

Culture in the Church vs. Church in the Culture
Mark Driscoll and Perry Noble
Does it matter that culture sees the church as unconnected and out of touch? Are movie clips and secular songs effective in leading people to Christ? Does a pastor really need a "brand?" How and when does style mute the message of the Gospel? What do churches miss when they choose to ignore the lessons of the broader culture in leadership and organizational management? What chance does the "dork" have in reaching people and building his church? When does our emphasis on style become a subtle form of Arminianism? What are some things you've seen churches do that go too far to penetrate the culture or not far enough?

Noble – we connect via the culture to bring people to the Word
Driscoll – Where do you contextualize and where do you contend (Jude 3)?  Reject, Receive or Redeem this cultural item.
MacDonald – I don’t think dead orthodoxy is a substitute for reaching lost people.
-If it doesn’t adorn the glory of God & the beauty of Christ it doesn’t advance the Gospel. 35% off

Love the Gospel vs. Share the Gospel
Greg Laurie and Mark Driscoll

Why does it seem that those who revel most in the Gospel are least effective in seeing people saved and baptized? What are the elements that cannot be left out of the Gospel without distorting it? What is the meaning of "free offer of the Gospel" in preaching and is it biblically modeled or mandated? Why give an invitation when the biblical mode of confessing faith is baptism? Does preaching Christ in every sermon require a full explanation of the way of salvation?

Laurie – theology without apology.
Driscoll – need to be soldiers and not gun collectors.  You can just sit at home polishing your grandpa’s guns, you have to get out & shoot them.

MacDonald John 4:35

David Platt and James MacDonald

How has materialism infiltrated the church? What is the true meaning of stewardship? Are big beautiful houses of worship an artistic expression of praise or an extravagant self indulgence? Is Jesus ministry normative for the minister's finance? How is the current trend toward poverty influencing the North American church for good/bad? What is the impact of renouncing money upon spouse/children? What is a biblical standard of living for a minister of the Gospel? Is it wise stewardship to make your teaching resources free?

Multi-Site: Personality Cult vs. God's Greater Glory
Perry Noble and Matt Chandler

Is it biblical for someone to pastor people they never see? Are multi-site and massive ego synonymous or is there a place to pursue this course in humility? Is celebrity status the fault of the pastor or the people he is trying to lead? What's the difference? What dangers must be avoided in the multi-site approach? What can we say to those who label multi-site an unbiblical ecclesiology and what must they explain?

Do it like a plant and not an overflow room.

Compassion Amplifies the Gospel vs. Compassion Distorts the Gospel
Greg Laurie and David Platt

How important is it to express the compassion of Christ in tangible ways as pre-evangelism? In what ways is compassion ministry an 'easy out' and safe haven from the offense of proclaiming Christ? What is our obligation to express the compassion of Christ beyond the household of faith? Are we really responsible to affect change in every needy area of the world simply because technology allows us to know about it? Are we supposed to reach cities or individuals? What have you done that elevated compassion in your people without drawing them away from evangelism?

Platt – compassion is inextricable from the Gospel.  Compassion (mercy ministry, caring for physical needs) will be a reality in our lives if we believe the Gospel.
Laurie – compassion moves us to help people but cannot take the place of Gospel proclaimation.  Use compassion to bridge to bring them the Gospel.
Platt – it is easier to give someone who is thirsty a glass of water than it is to share the Gospel
Laurie – teaching those who are sent out how to lead people to Jesus while they serve & provide compassion.
--Like Union Gospel Mission
MacDonald – our responsibility is first & foremost to help our people (& churches) within our faith.  In addition to that, loving on and meeting the practical and physical needs of other people is sharing the Gospel.

Driscoll – God’s plan A is humility, God’s plan B is humiliation.

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