I’m sitting in my hotel room at the end of the first day of the Dwell Conference, although I have no idea when I’ll be able to post this. The room comes with free high-speed Internet, but it’s pretty sporadic.
The measure of a good conference is that you can walk away with one thing that you needed to hear and that will make a difference. The conference is only half over, and tomorrow looks to be even better than today, but already it’s been a good conference. We’ve had C.J. Mahaney talk about watching our life and ministry; Ed Stetzer talk about Kingdom mission; Eric Mason talk about incarnational ministry; and Mark Driscoll talk about dwelling in the text.
I also went on a trip to the Redeemer offices for a session on how people change, taught by Lois Kehlenbrink.
Tomorrow we have some sessions with Darrin Patrick, Tim Keller, and Mark Driscoll.
- These guys get it. It’s the best blend of gospel doctrine and mission that I’ve encountered at a conference, and it’s contagious.
- There’s been a good emphasis on not running down other ministries. It’s been taught and practiced. These guys have their convictions, but it’s been expressed with humility and charity toward others. I should say that this is true of Mark Driscoll as well, whose message tonight on dwelling in the Word was excellent.
- I’m not a church planter, although I’d love to be. Another day or two of hanging out here and I think I’d be in.
- Ed Stetzer once planted a church in Buffalo, where he paraphrased an old prayer: “Give me Buffalo or I die.” I figured that if Stetzer could say this about Buffalo, someone needs to say it about a place like Toronto. I’m increasingly burdened to see something happen in that city.
- I love New York. I need to visit here more. I still hope to live here for a year one day.
People occasionally ask me if I would like to move on to a different church, into denominational life, or even to do more teaching. This conference reminds me why I love pastoring, especially in a place like Toronto. I’ve written down a number of things I need to go home and work through. Even though I’m not currently a planter, I’ve been challenged in very helpful ways today.
One more side note, but an important one: I’ve been challenged about being critical. I don’t know exactly why, since it’s not a conference topic. Some of the speakers here are unfailingly gracious toward others, and it looks and smells good. Mahaney and Keller are two examples. It’s so easy to blog about things we don’t like, and to tear down the ministries of others, but it comes at a cost and it detracts from mission. You can have doctrinal convictions and still show humility and grace to others. These guys model it.
I’ve rarely encountered what seems to be present here in spades: strong, missional theology, gospel and Kingdom focus, and humble orthodoxy. Exciting to see. It makes me hungry for more.