General Assembly, Part 21
You know you're in Nashville when there are four different country music TV channels to choose from on the hotel TV.
Super packed day 2 of General Assembly. In the morning there were Seminars galore. The challenge was in choosing which ones to attend. The first seminar I went to was called "Nietzche, Postmodernism and the Pulpit." The speaker was Douglas Coyle, the pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Doug has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Baylor. The basic thesis for the seminar was that Nietzche's thinking has impacted the postmodern attitude in our culture more than any other thinker. That said, any pastor should have a basic understanding of Nietzche in order to better preach the gospel to people shaped by the postmodern mood. It was helpful and I've already added a biography of Nietzche to my "to read" list.
The second seminar was by Skip Ryan, the chancellor of Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, TX. I was interested in this lecture because Skip had 30 years of successful ministry before having to step away from the pastorate for awhile. The seminar focused on how perfectionism (and performance) almost wrecked his life, his faith, and his family. Skip shared about how honesty, accountability, and a daily cycle of repentance saved both he and his ministry. It was really practical and beneficial and I came away with tons of personal applications in thinking about what it takes to be in ministry for the long haul.
I spent most of the afternoon connecting with church planters. I spent a couple of hours with Scott Brown of New Valley Church in Tempe, Arizona. I took Scott's job at North Cincinnati when he moved out to Arizona to plant New Valley. It was helpful to hear from a church planter 6 years into the process. I also spent a few hours with Ray Cannata (Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New Orleans). Ray is an old friend and my main mentor while in seminary. Almost everything I know about preaching I learned from him. Ray moved to New Orleans from New Jersey a couple of months after Katrina in order to restart the church. They are doing great work in the city, and still rebuilding homes devastated by the hurricane. I'm hoping New City can send a mission trip to New Orleans in the near future.
We got to hear Dick Kaufmann (Harbor Pres in San Diego) speak at a Mission to North America event over lunch. Dick is a bit of a legend in the arena of church planting, and the New City launch team used a lot of his material in preparing for our launch. Dick's been very sick the last few months, so it was a bit of a surprise that he spoke at all. He was fantastic, telling us the story of planting Harbor in San Diego (w/ all sorts of lessons highlighted for young church planters).
Over dinner, Tim Keller and Ligon Duncan spoke together about the future of the PCA, including some of the internal debates within the denomination. Tim Keller's remarks were a condensed version of an article he wrote called "What's So Great About the PCA." The substance of Duncan's comments are captured in this interview "Our Biggest Threat is Shallow Relationships." Keller and Duncan find themselves on different sides of a lot of debates within the denomination, but they are a model of charity and respect and they do a great job of explaining and modeling how we should move forward together.
The highlight of the day was the Indelible Grace HymnSing. Indelible Grace was started by Kevin Twit, an RUF campus minister. He and the Belmont RUF group really were the beginning of the now quite pervasive movement of writing new tunes to old hymns. Along with Twit were many of the old school Indelible Grace players such as Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, Matthew Perryman Jones, Matthew Smith, Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay), and many more. It was a GREAT 2 1/2 hours of worship. If you're interested in the music, check out the RUF Hymnbook for hundreds of new tunes for old hymns. The hymnsing was at the Ryman Auditorium (the original site of the Grand Ole Opry). Lucy now has been to three great concerts: U2 and Over-the-Rhine while still in the womb, and Indelible Grace now at 5 months. We're hoping this will ensure she has good taste in music.
This is getting long and I haven't even mentioned any of the business Wednesday on the floor of General Assembly. There were a lot of Agency reports on Wednesday - you can read about them here. I'll recap Thursday late tonight or early tomorrow. We're looking forward to being back with you all for worship in Sunday. We start our new series Summer Psalms with Psalm 1 this weekend.