It was a blessing to be part of The Gospel Coalition Los Angeles Conference this year with Reality LA (church), Tim Chaddick, my church, and others last weekend. Our goals for the conference was to love Jesus more, strengthen our local churches, and to build friendship for gospel partnership in the greater LA area. Here are some thoughts on the weekend.
The conference itself. I regret that I wasn’t able to sit in most of the sessions to meditate with Don Carson and all in attendance on what was being preached. That is probably my biggest regret of the whole thing. I’ve heard Don Carson preach on these topics in the past, so I wasn’t totally unaware of what was preached. But to hear the messages preached live, in the presence of the preacher, with others focusing on God, hearing Christ’s voice, and receiving the mercies that were new for each session saddens me a bit. Still, it was a joy to serve other LA pastors and churches by being part of the team that organized the conference. I sat in the back most of the time either listening for snippets of the message, sifting through text-in questions for the Q&A session, or making sure I was knew what I was supposed to say at the beginning or end of the sessions I was responsible for. From what I observed and heard, it seemed that grace was poured out on the people in attendance through the Word preached and the encouragement in conversations ultimately leading people to love Jesus more and bring some renewed strength back to their churches. To hear/see audio/video resources from the conference, click here.
Driving Don Carson around. My CrossView brother Danny and I were privileged to drive Don around for the Friday and Saturday events. We joked in the car about how if it got socially awkward we could play one of Mark Dever’s interviews of Don Carson in the car instead. The car rides were pleasant and I was able to ask Don about things without turning into Bible Q&A. I asked him about his church planting experiences and pastoring, what he thought about other authors’ works, his current projects, and other more or less meaningful things. I certainly walked away encouraged by Don and Danny in those car rides and am grateful to God for that opportunity.
Meeting other pastors, tweeters, and bloggers. It was a joy to meet others at the conference. I fear if I start mentioning people here, I’ll forget some brothers so I won’t mention names. But it was a joy to meet others I’ve seen online through our TGCLA group on the city, twitter, and facebook. I pray that many friendships, encouragements, and gospel partnerships will be formed for the good of Southern California in the gospel for decades and generations to come.
Co-hosting the event with Tim Chaddick. When I met Tim two years ago now I had no idea how God was using him or Reality LA in our city. It’s a privilege to know this brother and some of his church members who serve God very diligently. I was really nervous to be co-hosting the event with Tim. I was nervous as if I was the one preaching. But God answered my prayers and helped me to serve the people rather than be preoccupied with myself and how I thought I was leading. I do think I was distracted a bit during the Q&A in part because I wasn’t able to ask some questions I wanted to ask (which was ok). I also knew where he was going with certain questions and I didn’t know whether I should’ve pushed Don to answer a question that he was ducking. It was my first Q&A and I will take a few lessons from it. First, I will engage the speaker, even if I already know the answer he’ll state, because I might be able to draw out more to edify the audience. Secondly, I think I should push further on questions that are not answered adequately if I think it would be helpful to those sitting in the room.
Desires for a regional chapter in LA. We want to create a regional chapter here in Los Angeles that will serve and strengthen pastors and churches in our region for church health, church growth, and church planting. We are planning to have a gathering in January in West LA, but first we need to get the email list together and send out emails to see where everyone is from who might be attending.
Things for which I give thanks. I thank God for Don Carson coming out and faithfully expounding God’s Word and the gospel. God was good in bringing many pastors and Christians to the conference to be introduced to The Gospel Coalition and to Don Carson’s teaching ministry. I thank God that many pastors and church leaders are excited to partner with others, even if informally.