Mark Dever, Philip Van Steenburg and I traveled in Australia during most of August. Mark gave 29 talks/lectures/sermons in Brisbane and Sydney and I gave seven talks/sermons in Tamworth. We had countless conversations with pastors and those in training as well as many small group interactions. Best of all for 9Marks audio listeners we recorded five new interviews (due out in 2010) with:
Bruce Winter--formerly the warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge and now the principal at Queensland Theological College
Michael Bennett--author of Christianity Explained
William Taylor--Senior Minister at St. Helen's Bishopgate in London
Phillip Jensen--Dean of Sydney and senior minister of St. Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney
Matt Chandler-- Senior Pastor of The Village Church in a suburb of Dallas, TX who happened to be traveling in Australia the same time we were.
A couple of takeaways from my travels:
The evangelistic effort is broader than merely what's happening in Sydney. Yes, the evangelical church is tiny in Australia, but it exists beyond the city.
We spoke to loads of young, vibrant ministers which speaks well of the future of the church.
I was very surprised how well known 9Marks material was among the various groups we spoke to. Mike McKinley is a known commodity down under!
I was equally surprised at how well versed our Australian friends are on the entire American evangelical scene. Honestly? I ran into loads of people who knew more particulars about Tim Keller and Mark Driscoll and John Piper than I do. It appears many of our Australian brothers and sisters download and listen a lot. This speaks to both the opportunity and responsibility we Americans have for good content.
A minister described (to his face) Phillip Jensen as the "oldest angry young man he had ever met." I think I know what he means. At age 62 Phillip has the fight of a young man. He bucks against the system when the system is broken. He fails to conform when the gospel is at stake. He labors to train men and women for gospel ministry with unmatched vigor. No doubt Phillip is wrong on some fronts. But more of us (myself included) should risk being wrong for the sake of doing right!
Well, technically, I'm still there. One more talk tonight by CJ Mahaney on I Peter 5.
A few random reflections before I get back to the real world tomorrow and all of this washes into the back of my mind:
Looking forward to reading Shepherds After My Own Heart by Timothy Laniak. CJ recommended it on Monday night and it looks excellent. Leeman reviewed the book here.
Great message by Jeff Purswell last night about the centrality of teaching in the call of the pastor. Get the audio when it comes out.
Covenant Life Church people must be the nicest people on the planet. The old man who greeted us at our car in the parking lot on the first night was so kind I wanted to hit him over the head with a baseball bat, stuff him in my trunk, take him back to Virginia and make him greet people at my church.
Awesome message by Dave Harvey this morning about the connection between church planting and mission.
I skipped Mark Dever's breakout session entitled "The Pastor and the Community". I assumed it was about the church community. Turns out it was about mercy ministry in the wider community. Bummed I missed it, but I read the notes and they are great. I'll see if I can post them here later.
I'm winning my friendly wager with my wife. Vegas set the over/under on number of times the phrases "freshly affected" and "evidence(s) of grace" would be said in these three days at 5,605. I took the "over" and I only need 675 mentions tonight to win. I think I'm a shoo-in.
I appreciate how wife-friendly this conference is. It's great to be here with my lovely wife; the time together is more than half the fun and benefit.
I'm offering up my services to the SG folks for the 2011 Pastor's Conference. Guys, I am willing and able to teach a breakout seminar for visitors. My working title is, "Arms Folded or Hands in Pockets: Worship Posture Options for Cessationists and Non-dancers". You know how to get in contact with me.
I am loving the song "He Is Jesus". It's not new, but I hadn't heard it before this conference.
Well, that's it for now. Greg, thanks for doing that heavy lifting on the gospel!