Since hearing of the upcoming Inerrancy Conference shortly after the cessation of the Strange Fire Conference, I (and many others) have been eagerly waiting for Shepherd’s Conference 2015. It would seem then, that the elephant in the room might be, “So, why aren’t you there!?”
The answer is very simple.
Because of my love for the church.
That may seem like an odd answer… perhaps even self-contradictory! After all, Shepherd’s Conference is designed to encourage and equip pastors so that they can, in turn, better serve their churches. For the pastor to take the time and money to attend Shepherd’s is a demonstration of love for his congregation. And, by the way, to make it possible for your pastor to attend Shepherd’s is an act of love for him! He will be refreshed and filled with new joy and energy to faithfully serve you. Who wouldn’t want that for their pastor?
But when I say because of my love for the church – I mean, my love for my church. Until just a few months ago, that church was Grace Community, but now, I count “my” church as High Point Baptist. I had a deep desire to shepherd these people, and they are a people my wife and I quickly fell in love with. So, as of December 7, 2014, I assumed the role as their Pastor-Teacher.
It is for no other reason than the fact that I so recently arrived here, that I am not at the Summit. The time, cost, and energy spent moving across the country, plus finishing up my last semester at TMS, the start of a new ministry, new training, new home, and the reality of a new baby in the home – made the additional week away at Shepherd’s Conference simply not feasible. My wife even asked me yesterday, “Do you wish you were there?” Before I could even answer, she quickly added, “That’s a silly question.” High Point is where I must be. As such, it’s also where I want to be and Lord willing, we can look forward to many Shepherd’s Conferences in the future.
Now, that being said, let me share with you why I love my church and why I am committed to it:
The people of High Point Baptist Church are committed to the sufficiency and authority of God’s inerrant Word.
A lot of churches will give lip service to that… in fact, most do. The only problem is, actions speak louder than words and most churches have adopted philosophies of ministry that reflect that they don’t actually believe in the sufficiency of God’s Word – whether in evangelism, in corporate worship, and especially in the priority of preaching and teaching. Their philosophies of ministry reflect that they don’t actually believe in the authority of God’s Word – whether in life, counseling, or again… in preaching and teaching.
AND… very few churches actually believe that God’s Word is without error. As a result, they’re open to a light weight, ecumenical, feel good and experiential theology, since after all, who’s to say this guy’s interpretation is right over that guy’s? So, their philosophy of ministry is built on a false humility.
Not High Point.
High Point is a Grace Advance revitalization effort, carefully vetted by the ECHA (Elders Overseeing Grace Advance) elders of Grace Community.
And when I heard High Point’s story, my heart bled for them. They were those people who were “starving and didn’t know what they were starving for.”1 They adopted a seeker-sensitive philosophy of ministry lock stock and barrel, and after a series of events over the course of a couple years – their world came crumbling down – driving whatever leadership that existed by that point to carefully search the Scriptures to find out what to do.
And then it got worse…
…much worse because now they had the task before them, having new founded convictions in the Word of God, to apply those convictions. And I’m glad they did. Long story short and a nasty church split later, what was left was a congregation with tender hearts, greatly humbled, and eager to learn and apply the Word of God to their church and to their hearts.
What pastor doesn’t want such a church?
So, that’s why I’m not at Shepherd’s Conference. To answer my wife’s question, “Do I want to be there?” DEFINITELY! And if I could capitalize capital letter’s, I’d capitalize them. But I’d rather be here with my new congregation. This week is monumental. It’s historic. It’s the week of the long-coming Inerrancy Summit, but it also marks the completion of my third month with our new family.
So, instead of heading off so soon in my pastoral ministry, our church is instead live-streaming the conference, making it available to those in our church and our community. Not only that, but many in our church are also enjoying the conference from the comfort of their homes.
No issue is so important for the church.
No issue is so important for shepherds of the church.
If there’s no inerrancy, there’s no authority, nor is there truth, nor is there conviction. That’s a great recipe for a disaster of a church, let a lone a weak one. But that’s much of what we have today: pastors and churches that don’t believe in the inerrant Word. And, as Ian Hamilton noted yesterday in his seminar, pastors and churches that don’t submit to the Word. Is it any wonder then that they have looked for church growth tactics and methods from social sciences? Is it any wonder they’ve removed the authoritative preaching of the Word only to replace them with ear-ticking “talks” and skits?
Inerrancy is the foundation for our ministry. As MacArthur noted in his opening seminar, “You cannot be a powerful expositor if you have a weak view of Scripture. There’s no such thing.” I would like to add, you cannot be a powerful church if you have a weak view of Scripture.
Here at High Point, we will be a powerful church because we have a high view of Scripture.
I pray yours is committed to the same.
- John MacArthur, He must have said it a hundred times? ↩