Julie and I just spent a few days in Mentor, OH. We attended a church-planting conference hosted by Grace Church of Mentor (http://www.gracechurchmentor.org/). I am not one to jump on the bandwagon, if I may use the term, of each and every conference I attend. In fact, I must admit, I am often more skeptical about them than I should be. This one very quickly eradicated my skepticism. It was very well done (read more about the conference here: http://www.gracechurchmentor.org/2007conference/2007_conference_index.html). I am encouraged to see the caliber of church planters we met. By this, I do not mean their skill-level but the kind of faith and passsion for God’s glory that they exemplify as they engage in pioneering new churches in America.
Grace Church was an incredible, service-oriented, and gracious host to all in attendance. We were able to attend the meeting because of the generous gifts provided through the Pioneer Fund. The fellowship was sweet, encouraging, and sincere; the food was fabulous and plentiful; the workshops were informative and practical; and the preaching was absolutely incredible. The speakers were Dr. Stephen Hankins, Dean of the Seminary and Graduate School of Religion, Bob Jones Jr. Memorial Seminary and Dr. David Doran, Sr. Pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church and President of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. These men spoke the words that I needed to hear. Their preaching was expository, heart-felt, and immensely practical. I will link to them as soon as they’re available, which may be sometime next week.
What is more, the workshops were helpful. In particular, the one most helpful to me was the session by Pastor Robert Potter, Pastor Tim’s dad and previous pastor of the church. It was about “Mentoring Church Planters.” He took us through the examples of Jesus and His disciples and Paul and Timothy. He challenged us to take the responsibility of mentoring and discipling young men for ministry rather than giving them over to Christian colleges and seminaries. This is something that we have discussed in our church and are planning to implement. I cannot say enough good things about the conference. In fact, I hope that we can have two or three other couples from BBC attend the conference next year.
Grace Church’s vision is phenomenal. But, what is so wonderful to see is that GC is making the vision a reality and the whole church is a part of it. This is the kind of church BBC will be, by God’s grace: one that has a grand vision for church planting and thus, advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ for God’s glory.
You can see what another conference attendee wrote about the conference:http://mytwocents.wordpress.com/2007/06/21/national-church-planting-conference-report/http://mytwocents.wordpress.com/2007/06/22/national-church-planting-report-part-2/
In short, this conference provided timely encouragement; it allowed us to meet new friends who are also on the front-lines of ministry and church-planting; and refreshed us being among brothers and sisters in Christ who have a sincere faith and godly desire to see churches planted for God’s glory. It fueled my passion for church-planting and seeing BBC becoming a church-planting church.