Pray for the Pastor's Conference

The sixth annual Bethlehem Conference for Pastors takes place Monday-Wednesday, January 25-27.  Would you include it in your daily prayers from now until then? Pray that the speakers would be led into truth that the pastors need and would be anointed with the Holy Spirit to deliver that truth with joyful, winsome, persuasive, humble, loving, creative power. And pray that the pastors and church leaders who most need this conference will come.

I am excited to announce that after a two year absence the Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service will be back with us handling our book store during the conference. They will have their services set up in the east end of the fellowship hall (through-way) Sunday, January 24 and Wednesday evening, January 27 for you as well as the pastors.

The topic for the Pastors’ Conference is: “Shrink? C.E.O.? or Man of God? The Calling of the Minister and the Challenge of Modernity.”

There’s an interesting history behind the title (which Os Guinness suggested). About 50 years ago in America, evangelicals commonly criticized liberal pastors for being Shrinks in their pulpits and C.E.O.’s in their studies. In other words, they accommodated to their secular culture.

The irony is that evangelicals today have surpassed anything the liberals of the 1940’s ever accomplished in accommodating to the contemporary world of psychology and business. We evangelicals are the masters of managerial excellence and church growth by marketing. We are also the major publishers and consumers and preachers of therapeutic Christianity. The tables have been turned.

Is this a good thing? Is a pastor mainly a C.E.O.? Is he mainly a therapist? Or has our culture exerted so much pressure on the concept of ministry that the biblical vision of “man of God” has been lost?

That’s the question Os Guinness will address. Os is a writer and speaker and Christian analyst of contemporary religious and political life. He has recently published two books, The American Hour: A Time of Reckoning and the Once and Future Role of Faith, and No God but God: Breaking with the Idols of our Age.

My friend, Ben Patterson, a pastor and writer from New Providence, N.J. will tell us his story in the pastorate. His title is “Hanging on for the Eighth Year”—things that kept him going especially when it’s been hard.

William Waldrop, the executive director of ACMC, will fulfill the climactic task of turning us all outward to the wider missionary challenge of the church with a message entitled, “The Model (Missionary) Church: Antioch of Syria.”

Seventy years ago J. Greshem Machen (one of the founder’s of Westminster Seminary) saw what was coming in our culture. My part in the conference will be a biographical study of Machen with a focus on “Machen’s response to Modernism.” Please pray for me.

Seeking to serve the wider church with you,

Pastor John

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