There are some excellent speakers lined up this year. Personally, I’m really excited that missiologist Alan Hirsch will be there, as well as Gavin Ortlund and Ed Stetzer, who is such an important voice in the church today – and happens to love Calvary Chapel!
I will be teaching an in-person Training Track at the conference on the topic of: “Preaching and Teaching Gospel-Centered Expository Messages.”
We are excited to host this conference at our church this year on May 21-22. This is a conference which has been going on for years in Cheyenne, WY – but this year the organizers had the idea to invite men from other churches in the region.
Speakers include Shaun Sells (Calvary Chapel Cheyenne), Michael Payne (White Fields Community Church), and Jeff Figgs (Calvary Chapel Greeley).
The theme and messages come from Revelation 2-3 and the letters to the 7 churches.
This will be a great time of fellowship, prayer, and study, culminating with a steak lunch on Saturday, May 22.
He recently wrote a short and helpful book about Christian sexual ethics, in which he also talks about his own experience of same-sex attraction, titled “Is God anti-gay?”.
Key Points from Sam’s Message
In the West, we live in a place where people’s “moral intuitions” have shifted. People are not morally relative, nor are they amoral. Rather, their “intuition” of what defines morality has changed. People now base their determination of morality on these questions:
Is it fair, or does it discriminate?
Is it freeing, or is it oppressive?
Is it harmful, or benign?
Anything seen as limiting freedom is seen as creating an existential conflict.
As a result, whereas biblical sexual ethics in the 1950’s-1980’s, for example, were considered prudish, they are now considered immoral.
What is needed is for us to learn to listen well, show people the goodness of God and provide a true and better narrative.
It’s worth listening to Sam’s entire message. Here is the video of it, as well as a follow-up interview he did afterward.
For the past week I have been in Ukraine to work with Calvary Chapel churches here. On Friday and Saturday Mike Payne and I spoke at the CC Ukraine leaders conference in Irpin, near Kyiv.
I taught on discipleship pathways and leadership pipelines, and Mike spoke on leading in a supporting role. There were also a few Q&A sessions where leaders from different churches were able to ask questions about things they are facing or are curious about.
On Saturday evening, after the conference, Mike went to Ternopil in western Ukraine, while I took a train to Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, and we both spoke at churches in these cities on Sunday.
The pastor of Calvary Chapel in Kharkiv, Victor, contracted measles and got very sick, to the point where his life may have been in danger. He is doing better now, but is still under quarantine. I spent the weekend with the assistant pastor, Nate, who also leads a ministry called Fostering Hope, which provides a home and family for several children. To find out more about Fostering Hope Ukraine, click here.
I am currently on my way back to Kyiv for a series of meetings tomorrow, and after that I will head to Budapest on Wednesday, where I will speak at Golgota Budapest and then spend a day in Eger, where my wife and I lived for 7 years and planted a church. On Friday I will be heading back to the US, just in time to preach on Sunday at White Fields.
God is continuing to do a great work here in Ukraine through these churches. Pray for them as they plan to plant new churches in Kyiv and develop a Leaders Training Program in Kharkiv.
The past few days have flown by in a blur. On Friday Jani and Tünde arrived to Kyiv from Eger and then we headed out the the Calvary Chapel Ukraine Pastors and Leaders conference which was held at a very nice Christian conference center in Irpen, just North-West of Kyiv. There were also pastors in attendance from Belarus and Moldova, almost 40 in total.
Ben Morrison and I taught the conference on the topic of Christocentric preaching, and our focus was on explaining why it's important to preach that way and how to do it. Let's just say, the weekend and the material was nothing short of revolutionary for these pastors, and I can see how God is going to use this approach to shape this movement going forward. It was so good that I plan to make sharing this approach a priority in the US and wherever else I will have the opportunity to do so.
One of the pastors in Ukraine, in the city of Kharkiv, is the nephew of a lady at White Fields, so it was great to connect. Additionally, the pastor who came up from Moldova is an old friend of my wife and I, and it was great to catch up with him and hear what the Lord is doing there.
After the conference, Travis and I drove with Ben and Levi to Svitlovodsk, and this morning I taught at their church service. The people are very open and responsive to the Gospel and I was able to see many of the people I had met on my trip last year.
In the evening we did a men's fellowship at the Banya (Russian sauna) and had a great time.
Tomorrow evening and the following evening Travis and I will be teaching a seminar on Work as Worship, so please pray that goes well.
Here are some photos of the conference and church today:
We arrived yesterday to Kyiv and have been staying with George and Sharron Markey. George's dad pioneered Calvary Chapel church planting in Ukraine, where there are now around 20 churches.
About 9 months ago George and his family moved back to Kyiv from Ternopil, where they had planted a church several years ago, to lead the church in Kyiv after the previous pastor stepped down. When I lived in Eger I had come to Ternopil twice to work with George and visit the church there.
After we arrived yesterday we went with George to the church office where he had a meeting, and then we got to walk around the city center of Kyiv.
In just a little bit we will be heading to the conference center for the Pastors and Leaders Conference which begins this afternoon. Jani and Tünde from Eger are on their way; I'm hoping they'll be blessed, instructed and encouraged by the conference and get connected with the Ukrainian Calvary Chapel leaders.
I just spent the past week at the Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference in Costa Mesa, CA.
Even though the church I lead is called White Fields, I was ordained in Calvary Chapel and have many good relationships there, and very much respect for the core values and aspirations of the movement.
One of the best things about these conferences is the fellowship with other pastors – having so many people together who are doing the same work, facing the same issues and working for the same things for the same reasons is rare, and very refreshing.
I remember one leader I worked with who used to discribe these kinds of meetings as being like Gilgal: the place in the book of Joshua that was the home base of the people of Israel during the time they were moving out to take conquest of the land which God had promised to give them, but which they had to go out and take by faith, but with much work.
This leader would say: This is our Gilgal. We go out into the fight, steping out in faith, obeying God, fighting to take hold of territory – and we come back here, after our defeats, after our victories, to worship, to encourage each other, to share stories from the field of what we experienced: to celebrate victories, to lick each others wounds – and then we go out again.
I’ve always considered that a great analogy of these kinds of gatherings, and that is certainly what this conference was like for me. I’m feeling blessed and refreshed and excited to get back to the work that God has called me to in Colorado.
Tomorrow we will begin the drive back to Colorado from Southern California… Pray for us… 18 hours, to make it there for church on Sunday…
Last week I was in Costa Mesa, CA for the annual Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference. It was a great time of encouragement and fellowship, catching up with friends from all over the world who I only see at events like this.
This was the first SPC since Pastor Chuck Smith died, and the focus was on not forgetting the past, but not living in the past either – rather pressing ahead, building upon the foundation we’ve been given.
The messages at the conference were great, particularly what Brian Brodersen shared from Haggai ch 2, about how “the glory of the latter house will surpass that of the former”. May it be so!
Many of the sentiments shared at the conference, such as that Calvary Chapel must not be insular, but must understand its place in the wider body of Christ, and that we must stay on mission rather than being distracted by peripheral issues, definitely resonated with me.
I’m looking forward to everything that God will do through this movement in the years to come.