Today started off with me sitting in on a Capitol Hill Baptist intern training session. There were about 30 guys crammed into a room in three different groups. Group One was Mark Dever and the interns who sat around a table in Mark’s office. Group Two were the staff who sat around the outside of the room. Group Three were those of us coming for the weekender, who sat in the 2nd half of Mark’s office. The interns discussed four books:
- ‘Christian Ministry’ by Bridges
- ‘The Church and the Surprising Offence of the Love of God’ by Leeman
- ‘Polity’ by Dever
- ‘Trellis and the Vine’ by Payne and Marshall
The interns had to write papers reviewing each of the sections and then Mark steered the discussion around the table, quoting from different papers and generating discussion.
The next part of the meeting was fun. Each of the interns were given a book written in the last few years on the an aspect of the church and were asked to take on the persona of the writer, talk about the thesis of the book, defend that thesis and argue against the other ‘authors’. It was fun to see guys taking on theses that they obviously didn’t agree with and arguing them as if they owned them. Then it was time to critique each book, so the interns dropped their respective façades and said what they thought of the book.
After that was lunch where I got the dirtiest burger and worst fries I have ever had! It made Maccas look clean and nice!
After having a sleep I registered for the conference and then went for dinner with Ryan Kelly. Ryan is the Pastor at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is currently doing a PhD on John Owen (which shows that he was the brains trust in our conversation!). We chatted about the usual Pastor stuff (what are we preaching through, what are we reading, our families etc.). Ryan is a great guy and, from the one sermon I have heard, he is a great preacher! You can download his sermons here and you can see him in a discussion with Kevin Deyoung and Greg Gilbert on the mission of the church here.
After dinner, the conference started and we heard a great talk on the church by Matt Schmucker. Matt is the executive director of 9Marks which is the organisation that has put on this conference I am attending. It was a great talk where he reminded us that the Mission of the church is to glorify God first and foremost and ‘mission’ or ‘evangelism’ exists because worship doesn’t! We then went to an Elders meeting which started at 7pm and finished around about 11:30pm. Even though the Elders had 100 people listening in, they were very open and lovingly frank in what they discussed and how they talked about matters of concern. I was encouraged that aour monthly Elders meetings at Resolved we talk about exactly the same things as they did, with two exceptions, and those exceptions are tied to the congregationalism that exists at Capitol Hill Baptist.
Points of learning:
It has been interesting to see how Mark has set up his study and his life. His study is filled with books (of course!), there is always music going and there is always at least one other person in the study at any one time. Mark seems to feed off the energy and conversation of others. I have loved being in the study as I work answering emails and writing blogs. This is because I am an extrovert and love people. I want to think more about how I work because I hate sitting in a room by myself, working on a sermon or something else. I get a lot more work done when I am around people. So what I am going to try to do is work out what sort of work environment is best for me and also work out what is the best work rhythm that suits me, given that I’m extroverted. In Dever, I have experienced a man who knows who he is and sets up his workplace so he will be most effective – and effective is something that I think we all want to be.
Elder Board – I have said to the Elders at Resolved how glad I am that, as a young pastor, I have a got a band of brothers with me. Not only do I think that an Elder-governed church is the only form of polity that is biblically sound, but practically it is also extremely wise. I saw the benefits of an Elder Board again last night as I saw 14 men talk about caring for a church of around 1,000 people. I saw the care they had for each other and for their church and I saw how Mark Dever was able to mostly sit back and let his Elders talk about church discipline matters, caring for the hurting people in their church along with buying and selling of property. The Elder Board model multiplies ministry and the leadership of the church in a way which I have never seen in a Parish Council (Anglican) model. I saw that clearly tonight and I was encouraged to keep going with the Elder Board at Resolved.
 Congregationalism is a system of church government where the congregation is the highest earthly authority for the church. Therefore the church votes on whom to let into membership, who to discipline, who to vote in as pastor etc.