This past weekend, Jonathan, Hannah, and I had the privilege of participating in Vision Forum’s NCFIC Church Planters' Symposium in Wake Forest, NC. It was very interesting, enjoyable, encouraging, and helpful. We have been praying, thinking, reading, etc., about what the Lord would have us do in our corner of the world regarding the planting of a church. The conference was a good source of wisdom and fellowship with some like-minded believers. Scott Brown put the event together along with 3 other men from his church and the help of several church family members.
What follows is an attempt to boil down a half-inch-thick stack of notes and many memories into a synopsis for you. It won’t do the conference justice, but you’ll get the idea.
A nice 4.5 hour drive through VA and NC countryside on Thursday afternoon… dump stuff in the hotel and eat at a crowded Mexican restaurant… recon mission driving through downtown Wake Forest in the evening to find the conference site and potential parking places for the next morning… turns out my idea of Wake Forest being a large metro area is totally wrong – it’s a quaint, historical little town with two short main streets and a few cross streets… found Scott’s office building, next to a restored classic car sales place… back to Hampton Inn to zonk out.
Day 1 – Scott Brown, Fulfill God’s Purpose for the Church
The conference room was about 20’x40’ and held several dads, couples, and several sons and one daughter… Scott kicked off by praying, then having everyone introduce themselves and telling briefly about why they came to the conference… Scott started with describing 9 elements of the church that need to be established when planting a church: pastoral care, Jesus as Head, members identified, her victory, her value, her role in the world, her foundation, her mandate, and her centrality in history… with all her existing spots and wrinkles and problems, God really sees the church as His bride and is steadily perfecting her… we really need to see the church as gloriously and importantly as He does… great perspectives shared by Scott.
Jason is a co-elder with Scott at Hope Baptist Church, and along with being a great teacher he is pretty humorous… review of regulative principle (only allow what is clearly warranted in Scripture) vs. normative principle (can do anything not expressly prohibited in Scripture)… the church has a mission, gifts and gifted men, government, and practices… from Acts 2, the practices are evangelism, baptism, the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (Lord’s Table), and prayer… we don’t see a lot of programs in the New Testament church, just brothers and sisters practicing these main activities in an organic, relational manner… make sure activities do not rob us from the huge responsibility of discipling our families.
Lunch – meatball subs, chips, veggies, drinks, and cookies, graciously prepared and served by several young ladies from the church… met Scott and several others to chat about our backgrounds… talked with a family from Massachusetts who had planted a church (the dad is an elder there) and intend to plant another church in their area (they also play Celtic and bluegrass music as a family).
Dan Horn, Complementary Roles of Church and Home
Dan is one of the other men in Hope Baptist Church who is currently going through an examination process to possibly be appointed as elder, with the thought of planting a new church out of Hope Baptist… Dan is a very intelligent, articulate teacher… message based upon Deuteronomy 6… don’t just run away from youth groups, but re-establish the biblical framework of family and church; fathers need to take back up the leadership role (prophet, priest, king)… God commands fathers to teach sons and grandsons--it is not for the church to usurp this role; multigenerational… the Shema, starts with confession of God as one, then loving God with all our might; nurture and admonition…fathers provide protection to their households, teach who the Lord is… church’s roles: equip believers, encouragement, accountability, gifts, doctrine, deal with exceptions to God’s normative family pattern.
Jason Dohm, Establish Biblical Church Government
Plurality of elders; gathered saints can exist as a church but are in a “deficient” state without elders (Titus 1:5)… see no chief pastor in the Scriptures other than Jesus Christ Himself… devoted to the Word and prayer… elders watch out for and protect the flock from wolves without and within, know their souls’ condition… elder role is a good work and to be done by men who are mature and qualified… main qualifications: (1) mature spiritual character, (2) able to teach, (3) manages his household well… seminary training can be very beneficial but not on the list of qualifications… use sound doctrine to exhort and convict… always on call for prayer… be a shepherd… brethren among elders and elders among brethren, no clergy/laity distinction… serve willingly and eagerly but not lording it over anyone, be an example… develop robust heads of households, encourage fathers to go home and teach and model the Bible to their families… from Q&A – for new church plant, don’t just rush to appoint men as elders just to say you have them, take your time to get to know their character and family so know if they are qualified; just make sure that, at the start, you get straight on agreement of doctrines (orthodoxy) and practices (orthopraxy); if you don’t do it up front, you’ll regret it later; could use another established church’s leadership as an advisor and a resource to doctrinally examine an elder candidate.
Supper – Scott suggests that he and Jason are going down the street to a restaurant to eat dinner, and asks if anyone would like to join them – so 30 of us do so and tromp a few blocks to invade an Italian restaurant, causing mild panic among the restaurant staff… great food and lots of fun talking to Scott, Joseph from Australia, Michael and Brooke from Hong Kong, and Dan’s wife and daughter… stroll the streets for a few minutes to take pictures, and drive back to the hotel for some needed rest.
(to be continued)