This week is always one of my craziest, busiest, most wonderful, most hectic, most edifying weeks of every even year. Like many of you (and probably others that you know) I will be in Louisville this week for the Together For the Gospel conference. It’s always a tremendous time to sing, to learn, to listen, to laugh, to see old friends, to make new friends, to be amazed again by the gospel (and try as hard as I can to squeeze in a run in the midst of so much sitting).
Big conferences will never be one iota as important as the local church. Full stop. And yet, they can play a role in strengthening and supporting local churches and local church pastors. That’s always been the heartbeat of T4G.
So how might you benefit from a conference like T4G, and how might the benefits you receive be a blessing to your local church?
Here are four suggestions.
1. Be thankful. Thank God for the singing, for the resources, for the teaching, for the people serving you at the hotel and in the restaurants, for the people (you may never know or meet) who have worked and will be working tirelessly behind the scenes to make a massive event like this possible. Thank God for the freedom to gather in large numbers to learn and worship. Thank God for his work in recent years to stir up a passion for his glory, a hunger for good preaching, and a love for the particularities of the gospel. And when you return home, thank God for your local church and for your pastor.
2. Pray. I know the schedule is nuts, but it would be a shame to go prayerless for three days at a gospel conference. Pray for the speakers and the organizers. Pray for your fellow pastors and pastors’ wives. Pray for the churches represented. Pray for safety. Pray for conviction of sin and the comfort of the gospel. Pray for the result of our gathering to be greater humility before God, greater fidelity to the Scriptures, greater integrity in our ministry, and greater harmony in our families. Pray for people to get saved. Pray for preachers to be renewed. Pray for churches to be revived, encouraged, and strengthened.
3. Stand against the Devil. Resist the many temptations that can fly into our hearts in a week like this: temptations to jealousy and envy, temptations to bitterness and despair, temptations to compare and criticize, temptations to be haughty and proud, temptations to impress instead of to serve. Be mindful of the accusations and deceptions of the Evil One. Our battle is not against flesh and blood.
4. Take something home. No doubt, you’ll be stuffed full of teaching, conversation, and free books by the end of the week. No one should go away empty. But it’s wise to be strategic with all you’ll receive. You may want to think in terms of the one thing(s) you will take home: one new song to share, one practical suggestion to implement, one new idea to ponder, one new friendship to cultivate, one new book you will definitely read, one sermon to revisit, one doctrine to study, one habit to create (or give up), one Louisville Slugger for each of your non-violent children. Most of what you hear and see will fade from memory. That’s life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take something that will stick with you and your people for a long time.