“Top Ten” – Reasons the 2007 Shepherds’ Conference Excelled

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This past week I have enjoyed the privilege of attending the 2007 Shepherds’ Conference hosted by Dr. John MacArthur at his beautiful campus at Grace Community Church in CA. Our church sent a good contingent of leaders to soak up the expository messages and network with other pastors and leaders from across the globe. The atmosphere was electric and the the content was riveting. It was a powerful assembly of like-minded men dedicated to a high view of God, a desire to see God glorified, a high view of Scripture, a commitment to expository preaching and a desire to do the Lord’s ministry in the Lord’s way. Many of our wives were able to come and listen to the evening sessions while taking in some sight-seeing during the day. It served as both a vacation and an equipping ground to re-energize and re-focus my heart for the gospel ministry.

Here are my top ten reasons for appreciating the Shepherds’ Conference:

10. Free Food! We hardly had to pay for any meals — between what the hotel provided and the abundance of food showered upon us at the conference, we were well served.

9. Warm Weather! Having left Baltimore when another light round of snow was passing through, we loved the constant sunshine and warm environs of southern California.

8. Capable Administration — For such a large conference with so many attendees, the smooth running of the event was a testimony to Dr. MacArthur’s commitment to excellence in all areas of ministry. His church family and the students from The Master’s Seminary graciously volunteered their services to attend to our every need and be true servants. You had a shoe shine station! You had numerous stations with free drinks and a variety of snacks throughout the day. Coffee drinkers must have thought the rapture had already occurred! If you didn’t see what you needed, just ask at the Concierge station and they provided it.

7. Great Books! The conference provided a gift bag of 12 excellent books to each attendee. In addition there were numerous special offers and great discounts available at the Book Store. My luggage coming home will be a challenge… but many weeks of excellent reading lie ahead.

6. Uplifting Music — Every session began with some great singing — from the entire assembly of participants belting out one of the old favorites, to special music provided by some segment of the Grace Community — including a fantastic performance by the College Chorale. The variety of instrumentation and selection displayed the diversity of the music utilized at Grace Community Church. The sanctuary was outfitted with the latest in technology and audio-visual equipment to enhance the experience.

5. I especially liked the mobile pulpit that would rise out of the floor on command or disappear when not needed.

4. The speakers obviously have their pulse on the signs of the times and were able to focus in on specific strategic areas of concern for today’s church. Mark Devers warned of the likelihood of tough times ahead for genuine Christians in a political environment that is seeking to label many of our positions as “hate crimes.”Steve Lawson stressed the need for power and passion from the pulpit in an age where too many sermons are lifeless lectures on biblical content. C J Mahaney focused on the never-ending battle we all must wage against Pride. He gave his own battlefield strategy for pursuing humility on a daily basis. Al Mohler spoke from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 to show that the preacher must not rely on any type of fancy rhetoric or personal power, but must preach Christ Crucified in the power of the Holy Spirit. Dr. MacArthur will certainly take some shots for his unwavering support of the pre-mill position and his opposition to a-mill as inconsistent with reformed theology and its overall emphasis on God’s Sovereignty in Election.

3. The comraderie of our contingent from Hope Bible Church made this a special time of deepening our friendships and enjoying one another’s company in a relaxed atmosphere.

2. The opportunity to see these great expositors in person was fantastic. (John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, C J Mahaney, Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever) You got a sense of their personalities and during the Q&A panel discussion you could see them interact with one another — showing their respect and love for one another along with a playfulness reflecting their close association over the years. At the conclusion of Friday evening’s session, there was a SoapBox event where each keynote speaker was set up in an open air preaching station to communicate his heart on a wide range of issues.

1. God’s Word, when powerfully preached, informs my mind and impacts my heart to pursue my Lord more closely and more passionately. These were world class expositors who appreciated the opportunity to preach their heart out to such a receptive and strategic audience. This year the sessions were able to be viewed over the internet with the streaming technology. In addition, a number of people wrote some fairly detailed blogs to interact with the content from each session. Check out the blog content from Tim Challies site: www.challies.com.