Showing posts with label Pastors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pastors. Show all posts
Thursday, March 31, 2011 | By: Zachary Bartels

Code of Ethics

No, this isn’t Lenten Experiment #2, although Code of Ethics was a pretty great band in the early nineties . This is about an actual code of ethics . . .  
 

My computers died recently. That's right, I used the plural; both my home and church PCs went the way of all flesh pretty much back-to-back. I had backed up everything from my home computer. The stuff from my study is apparently gone forever. (A moment of silence, please.)


While re-loading and re-organizing my data on my new computer, I found myself flipping mindlessly through some old files, mostly papers from college and seminary. Some were painful to read, others surprisingly articulate. If you've ever spent a couple hours going through old files, you know how fun it can be to discover something you'd completely forgotten. This happened for me with the below “Code of Ethics,” written near the end of my Ministerial Ethics class in 2004.


When I came candidating at Judson, I gave the search committee a slightly modified version of this document, but mostly it was intended for my own benefit. Having been in full-time ministry for the better part of a decade, there are some items that I would nuance if I were writing this document today, but for the most part, it represents the kind of uncompromising principles that Scripture demands. As I read it through, I see a couple areas I need to work on (as well as a few with which I've struggled in the past and, with God's help, recovered). All in all, I was glad to have this document brought back to my attention. I intend to update it and post if somewhere in my office.



Do you have a code of ethics for your professional, personal, and family life? When I was a youth minister, I used to rip off some famous conference speaker's line and pretend it was my own (I didn't have a code of ethics back then), telling the teens that they should “decide in the cool of the afternoon what they were going to do in the heat of the night.” Of course, I was referring to partying, sex, alcohol—that sort of thing, but it could be applied to a shady business deal, missing a little league game, or talking a customer into a financing plan he or she can't afford. I encourage you to take some time soon—using Scripture and your own goals and values—to prayerfully lay out a code of ethics, and to give copies to some people in your life who can hold you accountable. It certainly won't make you perfect, but like Job who made a covenant with his eyes or the Nazarites who kept their vows to the glory of God, it pays to decide in the cool of the afternoon what you will do in the heat of the moment—whether in the board room, the bedroom, or the classroom. And I've found that having something succinct down in black and white helps to keep me from pulling a fast one on myself.


Code of Ministerial Ethics



Ministry


  • I will strive to maintain an attitude of servant-leadership. I will always remember that I have given up any life of self-fulfillment or self-seeking in order to serve God by serving my congregation. I will think of them in love and lead them with gentleness. I will avoid extreme forms of leadership, being neither dictatorial nor easily manipulated. I will serve my congregation by helping them grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
  • I will balance preaching, teaching, discipleship, evangelism, and other duties. I will do my best to fulfill all facets of my job description. I will not put an undue amount of time and energy into any individual facet to the exclusion of the others. Still, I will recognize that my primary role is that of preacher/teacher and will give it the appropriate emphasis. I will never knowingly misuse a text to fit my agenda in preaching. I will strive to always exegete, not “intro-gete” the Holy Scripture, paying careful attention to the original language, historical and cultural context, etc.
  • I will maintain a heightened professional sense of confidentiality. I will never break the confidence of a counselee, colleague, or parishioner unless they plan to harm themselves or others. I will never use a counseling session or church conflict experience as a sermon illustration.
  • I will respect the traditions of the church I am serving. I will seriously pray and seek wise counsel when considering changes to an existing tradition in the church. When such a change does take place, I will do my best to implement it gently and lovingly, understanding that traditions are important to people and often serve as aids to worshiping God.
  • I will not use my status as a minister to my personal advantage. I will not use the pastorate as a tool to gain deals, freebies, or preferential treatment. Nor will I use my pulpit or position to advocate particular political parties or positions. To do so would be to trivialize my call to Gospel ministry.
  • I will not show favoritism in dealing with my congregation. Recognizing that I will undoubtedly develop closer relationships with some church members than with others, I will not allow my ministry to be corrupted through the exchange of favors, preferential treatment of friends, etc. in the context of church business and ministry.
  • I will cooperate with other Christian churches and denominations as much as possible. I will teach my congregation about the vastness of the Kingdom of God through joint worship, service, and fellowship with other Christian churches. I will not attempt to recruit members from other Christian churches.
  • I will take on additional responsibilities (beyond my role as pastor) only if I can fulfill them without a negative effect on my ministry. Pastors are in a unique position to be salt and light to the community. I will always consider carefully my motives in taking on such additional roles and make certain that I have the time and energy to carry them out.
  • When I leave a church, I will do it for the right reasons and will not come back without the consent of the new minister. Although churches are usually happy to see a former pastor, I will bear in mind that, in order for my successors to be effective, they need to develop relationships with their people without competition from former leaders. I will always seek God through serious prayer to ensure that I never consider leaving a church for purely monetary or status-related reasons.

Personal


  • I will not use my ministry as an excuse to neglect my own physical, mental, and emotional needs. In order to be a good steward of my body and in order to be the most effective minister possible, I must take care of my own needs as a fallible human. I recognize that there will be a temptation to become a “martyr” for my ministry by ignoring personal needs. I will overcome this temptation, God being my helper. I will regularly exercise my body, maintain a healthy diet, and get adequate sleep in order to remain physically fit. I will allow myself to forget about ministry pressures and responsibilities for set periods of time to keep myself from mental and emotional overload. I will make wise use of advanced planning on a calendar or planning device to secure the time needed for these activities.
  • I will continually seek God in order to grow in faith and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through personal study, prayer, and continued education. I may be tempted to neglect my own spiritual development because of the demands of helping my congregation with theirs. I will never stop studying God’s word, seeking His will through prayer, developing my theology, and enjoying personal times of worship. I will take part in seminars, conferences, and classes that will help me in my personal spiritual formation as well as those that will help me as a pastor and leader. I recognize that all Christians are called to a lifetime of continued maturing in faith.
  • I will respect the Fourth Commandment by devoting one day out of seven to rest, reflection, and prayer. Although I may always be on call for emergencies, I will make every effort to rest regularly. In addition to weekly rest, I will try to have regular retreats both with family (vacation) and alone (sabbatical, study).
  • I will honor God with the way I conduct my finances. As good stewards of the gifts God has blessed me with, my wife and I will always live within our means and cheerfully give the Lord a tithe of our income.
  • I will pursue friendships outside of the congregation I serve. In order to maintain a healthy personal life and avoid burnout, I will maintain friendships with some people outside of my church and denomination. These friendships may or may not be evangelism opportunities, but evangelism will not be their only goal.
  • I will not take advantage of the freedom afforded by a career in ministry. I recognize that although a career in ministry offers some flexibility and less direct supervision than most, ministers are more accountable to God and man. I will not take advantage of this flexibility and fall into the sin of laziness. If I do, I will confess it immediately and seek God’s help in correcting it.
  • I will remain humble in any successes, reminding myself that it is ultimately not my ministry, but God’s. I will continually pray for God to strengthen me against the pride that can plague ministers. Should I find that I am becoming prideful, I will ask God to break me of my pride, knowing that He will do so.
  • I will avoid inappropriate conversation and gossip. As a minister, I will be privy to information that should not be shared in casual conversation. I will decide before the fact what I will and will not discuss with others, based on the factors involved.
  • I will take part in a clergy accountability group. Because a cord of three strands cannot be broken, I will seek out a group of at least two other ministers for the purpose of accountability, mutual edification, and encouragement.
  • I will not be alone with a woman to whom I am not related. (Except eldery women, shut-ins, etc.) Because Satan gains footholds through such indiscretions, no matter how trivial they seem, I am committed to avoiding all such situations in order to remain above reproach and maintain my reputation. I will never counsel a woman alone unless others are present in the vicinity and able to see us at all times.

Family


  • I will always recognize that my first commitment is to my family. Because a man must first have his own house in order to be eligible for ministry, I will always make my family my first priority. I will do whatever I can to keep my ministry from becoming a source of conflict within my family. I will block out, in advance, regular times devoted exclusively to my wife (and any future children) and protect these times from sources of competition.
  • I will not use my vocation as an excuse to impose unrealistic expectations on my family. I will communicate to my church that my family is a normal family and must be allowed to operate as such.
  • I will respect my wife’s gifts and talents. I will not look to my family as an easy way to fill a position or need within the church unless they are gifted in that area of ministry and feel a call to it. Should we have children, I will not communicate to them any expectation that they will go into professional ministry unless they are called by God.
  • I will secure permission from family members before using them in sermon illustrations. Because the pastor’s family should not be expected to always open every detail of their lives up to the church, I will be very judicious about my use of family situations as sermon illustrations.
  • I will maintain a healthy boundary between “work” and “home.” Although a minister can never (and should never) completely separate his personal life from his “work life,” I will respect my family's needs and develop boundaries with the church as to when I am available and when I am unavailable, save true emergencies.
  • I will maintain an open and honest relationship with my wife. I will not hide personal and pastoral failings from my wife. If I violate an area of my personal or family ethical code, I will tell her immediately.
Monday, January 10, 2011 | By: Zachary Bartels

Mission Creep, 2010

Are you familiar with the term “mission creep?” A mission creep is not a jerk who works in a humanitarian field; rather, it refers to the phenomenon in which an organization expands its goals far beyond its original purpose. The term was first used to describe military strategies. For example, the Korean War began as an attempt to save South Korea from a Northern invasion. After some initial success, however, it became an attempt to reunite the peninsula, which proved ultimately unattainable. I haven’t studied the Korean War enough to know weather this was a foolish expansion of the mission, but many have pointed to that conflict and others like it as an example of the dangers of Mission Creep.

The same thing can happen in the business world. A restaurant starts with the mission of making the world’s best tacos, and it seems like they are succeeding. Soon they add hamburgers to the menu. Then hot dogs. Then they start a dog-walking service. Before long, a fast-growing business can become so broad that they seem to be about everything. Which means they’re about nothing. This often results in losing sight of the original mission. GM seemed to acknowledge this when they hit hard times and unloaded Hummer. Suburban tanks were not their main mission. Cars and trucks were.

A related term, “feature creep,” describes the common practice of adding more and more features to a product or software package until it becomes ridiculously complex, bloated, and difficult to use. At the end of the day, the basic function of the program or product is obscured by all the bells and whistles. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this.

Recently, many of the ministers and church leaders in my circles have been writing about Mission Creep in the church. Mega-churches add programs, ministries, groups, and classes simply because they can. Smaller churches get caught up in the “felt needs” trap and start trying to tickle ears and entertain wolves as a matter of first importance, rather than feeding the sheep. When the church coffee shop, after-school program, or film festival is on par with the preaching of the Word, we’ve got a problem.

Mission Creep is a real danger for churches, since we were left with a very specific job: teach what Jesus and the apostles taught (repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name), baptize, break bread together, pray, and worship. Of course, we see the church doing some other things in the book of Acts (most notably taking up offerings for the poor, providing food for widows, etc.), but these things were always secondary; they were done in a way that served the actual mission—the basic function of the Church. As with any organization, churches must constantly and intentionally major on the majors and minor on the minors.

In 2010, I believe our church has been almost completely immune to the epidemic of Church Mission Creep. We’ve met together for worship services that have been utterly centered on receiving Christ and his Gospel. The educational ministries at Judson, the outreach projects, the mercy ministries, the music—all of these have, as I perceive them, fit the mission of the Church, which was handed down once for all to the saints from Our Lord and his apostles. I am not saying we’ve been perfect this year, and I will resist the urge to catalogue every little item that you can read about in the annual reports of our boards and ministries, but I do believe that 2010 has been a faithful year of worship and service, furthering the mission of Christ’s holy Church. I am prouder than ever to be Judson’s pastor.

That said, despite having written and taught much on and around this very topic, in reflecting on this past year of ministry (my fifth at Judson), I realized that I have, to some extent, fallen into the trap of pastoral Mission Creep. You see, for all of our faithful service and worship, there have been two areas of concern for me this year. First, while we did add some wonderful new members to our number in 2010, that number is smaller than it has been since my arrival in 2005. In addition, the loss of members though death and relocation has led to a rather significant shortcoming in pledges as compared to our proposed budget for 2011.

Partially motivated by those two areas of concern, I expanded my goals as pastor and allowed Mission Creep to creep into the way I have led Judson Baptist. I have spent a much larger portion of time attempting to attract new members, solve financial problems, motivate giving, re-vamp the website, and other goals which, while laudable, are not the first concern of a pastor. A pastor (literally, “shepherd” in the New Testament Greek) is to be about feeding, guiding, and protecting his or her flock.

In hindsight, I can see that my visitation of home-bound and grieving members has been weaker this year than it was in years past. My follow-up with members who have begun to drift away from the church has been lacking. Even my routine of praying for each of you by name has often been squeezed out by less important pursuits. I’ve been busier than ever before, but perhaps with the wrong things.

Of course, my job description does include a wide and diverse collection of tasks and responsibilities, but, as a minister ordained to Gospel ministry, I need to continually remind myself that some of those tasks are majors and some are minors—and I need to dole out my time, energy, and creativity accordingly.

Mission Creep is never intentional. Whether it affects a restaurant chain, military operation, or pastor, the people in question always tell themselves that they can add more and more to the plate without harming their ability to remain faithful to that original mission. In 2010, I’ve learned anew that this is impossible. Remaining faithful means knowing what is central to the mission, what is of secondary importance, and what is inconsequential.

As we move into a new year of life and ministry together, I will be re-centering myself on a calling to spiritually care for my flock—to preach, teach, pray, serve, and love. And I will continue to lead our church further and further into the center of God’s revealed mission for his People on earth. If we’re all faithful in the task we’re given—if we seek first the Kingdom of Heaven—we can trust our God to provide all the rest of the things we need.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach
Thursday, June 10, 2010 | By: Zachary Bartels

Pastoral Advice Re: Pastoral Advice

I have three beautiful moles on my face. This isn’t an opinion—it’s a medical fact. When I was 20 years old, about to fall off from my parents’ insurance, I went to a dermatologist to have them removed (the moles, not my parents). The doctor said, in his thick Indian accent, “If I do this, I will scar you.” I inquired about the size of said scars, to which he replied, “It does not matter. I will not cut you; these are good moles. They are nice-looking moles.” And so the mole triangle remains. After all, he’s the doctor.

Those words freed me to truly love the sacred mole triangle. These days, when my sister starts talking trash about our gorgeous governor (don’t worry—my wife knows), quoting Uncle Buck’s “Have a rat gnaw that thing off your face” line, I don’t die a little inside because of my own facial moles. Not at all. After all, I know mine are “good moles.” Still, though. The nerve.

If, on the other hand, a doctor some day tells me that one of my moles looks suspicious—if he furrows his brow and points at the one closest to my nose and says, “I don’t like the look of that one; I think we should remove it,” then it’s goodbye Cherith! (note: I named him Cherith). I’d miss him like Dr. Chris Turk (obscure pop culture reference), but I’d get over it. You don’t want to mess around with your health over mere aesthetics, accessories, and beauty marks.

I actually trust doctors quite a bit. I’ve heard all the horror stories about missed diagnoses and I’ve read the statistics regarding the number of patients who wake up during surgery each year. . . I’ve even overheard my mother—an RN whose range of jobs (from jail nurse to ER nurse to college faculty) is downright Cherry-Ames-worthy (obscurer pop culture reference)—talking to her coworkers about the very human foibles and failings of the doctors with whom she has worked.

All the same, as a pastor, I find myself a spectator and bystander in hospitals all the time and I’m eternally amazed and impressed by the sheer volume of knowledge in the average doctor’s mind and their ability to sort through and apply it all. So when a doctor says, “I want to take a closer look at this,” or “I want to run some tests on that,” or, “Whoa that mole is changing shape and color before my very eyes and we need to freeze it, scrape it off, and graft some of your butt-skin in its place,” I’m down. You’re the doc. You’re the expert, the one who went to med school, did an internship and a residency. You’ve got the book-learning and the hands-on experience in this case. This is why we pay experts to be part of our lives—because we can’t all be experts on everything.

I would guess that, when it comes down to it, most people share my view on such matters. I don’t think I know anyone who would tell the doctor, “You may think we should remove or at least biopsy this mole, but I think it looks better and better the bigger it gets, so I’m going to disregard your expert opinion and just leave it be.” Sure, we might ask for a second opinion on major matters, but not because we think we know better than the doctor. If we’re thinking rationally, we’re not looking for a doctor who will just tell us what we want to hear; we’re looking to confirm what the first doctor told us.

And yet. . . I have a very different experience when I diagnose. No, I’m not practicing medicine without a license. (I’d throw up the first time I saw an infected wound.) I’m referring to my job as a minister, in which I am in a sense the expert hired by a group of people to guide them in spiritual/Scriptural matters. With another set of people, I don’t have a formal pastor/parishioner relationship, but am the main (or only) source for information and guidance on Holy Scripture and its application to their lives.

As such, I often have people ask me about this doctrine or that teaching or my assessment of a particular television preacher or popular author of religious books. I’m always happy to answer such questions, whether they are posed online, in a class setting, or one-on-one. And yet, I find that, in the majority of cases, if my answer doesn’t jibe with what they wanted to hear in the first place, such people disregard my counsel. They say, “Well, you think the mole is dangerous, probably malignant, needs to be removed. But I’m comfortable with this shape-shifting, hypercolor growth, so it’s going nowhere. I’m going to get a second opinion. And a third. And fourth, until I find someone—be it doctor, chiropractor, medicine man, shaman, or ‘holistic healer’ who agrees with what I want to hear. Or maybe I’ll just ask the mole itself.” Hi, I’m Buck Melanoma, Moley Russel’s Wart.

In such cases, I always wonder: why ask me to begin with? Were you just making conversation? Just asking about “spirituality?” I have no interest in nebulous conversations about a “spirituality” devoid of absolute truth claims. Now that you know, it’ll save us both some time. Did you decide while I was speaking that the TV preacher in question must be more trustworthy than me because he/she has an exponentially bigger audience? Well, this guy has an exponentially larger “patient-load” than your family doctor, but I’d still go with the latter. It just makes more sense.

I’m not suggesting that nine years of college and seminary somehow make me infallible and that my take on anything Scriptural should be followed as Gospel without question. I’m just suggesting that, if you’re gonna go ahead and get a second opinion, approach it with the same rationality that you would if it was your health on the line—don’t just search the web for someone who will tell you what you want to hear (Cf. 2 Timothy 4:3); rather, look to confirm (or not) my diagnosis from the Word of God alone, inquiring of someone who is trained, gifted, and experienced in rightly divide the Law and the Gospel and properly exegeting the text. And as with your dermatologist or family doctor, most cases don't even require the second opinion.

And if you find yourself defending a TV preacher or religious book author against your own pastor, I'd look long and hard into yourself, to make sure you don't have a case of “porno-preacheritis,

Because, while suspicious moles are nothing to mess around with, they don’t have a real agenda or a strategy to bring about your destruction. False teachers have both. And if you ask me, neither one (the iffy mole or the iffy teacher) is something you want to mess around with.

But then again, you don’t have to ask me.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach
Sunday, June 14, 2009 | By: Zachary Bartels

Everybody's Talking About Hero Worship

I've noticed that, over the past month or so, just about every reformed blogger has been talking about the notion of Christian hero worship--whether it's making a saint and martyr out of that bikini pageant lady (the one who stood up to some pseudo-famous, unfortunate-looking gossip blogger) or putting John Piper, John Calvin, or John Bunyan up on a pedestal as inerrant exegetes who speak ex cathedra. There has been appropriate caution urged. The cream of the crop, in my opinion, was a piece comparing the unquestioning veneration of famous pastors to pornography.

But in all these articles, one thing's been glaringly absent: any acknowledgement that, in today's technological world, many of these bloggers themselves are the objects of hero worship. I had been blogging for quite some time when I finally began to realize just how popular some young, restless, reformed bloggers have become. While I was putting together the initial blog list for www.calvinati.com, I became familiar with dozens and dozens of blogs. And when I realized which ones were super-popular (and which ones had tiny or non-existent reader bases), I was incredibly suprised--both by the gap between the reader-rich and read-poor and by the sometimes questionable taste of the masses.

As with most niche demographics these days, the YRR movement has its Internet darlings. I would guess that each of the ten most popular boasts more readers in a year than any fifty scholarly biblical commentators who pour decades of their lives into producing insightful, accurate, helpful studies and commentaries. This both saddens me and reminds me of the unfortunate situation among emergent types, wherein the most vocal leaders with the most loyal minions claim no particular insight into the text, no special level of study, and no desire to rectify that.

You see, it dawned on me a few days ago that most of the uber-popular bloggers of the reformed persuasion do not have a seminary education. I'm not going to start listing people, but even among those you would assume have been to seminary, upon a little investigation it seems that most have not. Those bigtime blogs with multiple writers?--yeah, one or maybe two contributors studied systematic theology, Koine Greek, and exegetical method under qualified men and women.

Does it matter? Hmmm, that's a tough one to answer. Certainly, there is no Scriptural mandate that pastors need to get an MDiv (and make no mistake--most of these bloggers are effectively functioning as pastors to many of the hundreds who loyally come back day after day to receive the next post.) In fact, Spurgeon didn't even have a seminary degree (something about a pig's tail). And certainly, the Holy Spirit has often called people into ministries whether or not they've got the standard outward credentials (think Moses, Gideon, or the Virgin Mary).

But how do we discern what is valuable to the church among the almost infinite number of blogs and websites out there? Is it based on who has the soundest doctrine? The most insightful perspective? The most ready-packaged application? The largest cache of free online materials? The sharpest looking presentation? Most stylish graphics? Most lively debate in the comments section?

I'd never suggest that only the seminary educated and ordained are fit to blog about the faith. Such a thought would be pure folly--Heaven save us from ivory tower Christianity. I'm just asking: what makes someone a superstar in our tiny little sub-culture on the web? And based on these criteria, is the level of authority attributed to each man really warranted?

Your thoughts, please.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 | By: Zachary Bartels

Wait...a Conference About WHAT?



Two weekends ago, I attended a two-day conference at University Reformed Church, called "Magnifying God: The Legacy of John Calvin." It was awesome. So why am I bringing it up now? Am I really that far behind in my blogging? Maybe... (I have been doing an awful lot of work on http://www.calvinati.com/ lately.) But for our purposes today, let's just say this was entirely planned.

You see, the conference is still very much on my mind two weeks later. I've downloaded the audio from each session (you can download it here), and I've re-listened to most of them multiple times, particularly Kevin DeYoung's sketch of John Calvin's life. Collin Hansen was also there (author of the sensation, Young, Restless, Reformed), as well as a couple other local pastors who led a variety of workshops.

Now, I've been in pastoral ministry for a few years now, and have attended my fair share of conferences and retreats. They usually have lots of singing and sobbing. Lots of "challenging" pep talks, seemingly designed to make sure that every pastor sees his church as inadequate and stagnant. A bunch of "breakout" discussion groups where we all lament how crummy we are at doing what really matters. And there's invariably some "expert" who jaws for hours about how his church chucked everything churchy and has grown from 35 people in a leaky rented banquet hall to 8,000 in a megaplex "worship center" as a result. Charles Finney would be proud.

Yawn.

In contrast, at the Calvin conference, we sang exactly one song: the doxology (right before leaving). No one uttered the (non-)words "organic," "missional," or "incarnational." "We listened to lectures about how the doctrines of grace are experiencing a bit of a revival (or, rather, the church is experiencing revival through them). Both the strengths and weaknesses of the current movement were discussed. We looked to the past, the present, and into the future without demonizing the past and without melodramatic proclamations that the church's future is bleak unless we change change change! (What kind of change? Why, the kind that makes us indistinguishable from the world, of course.) The tone of the day(s) was humility, hope, and patient endurance. Yeah, when you actually believe in the sovereignty of God, it's hard not to be optimistic.

But here's the ironic thing. The vibe at most pastors' conferences I've attended has been thus: You're all tired and weary from a year of inevitably unsuccessful ministry, so we need to help recharge your batteries. We won't talk about theology or Scripture or church history or any of that heady stuff--the last thing you need is to look backward. You need *real* food for your soul. You need a trendy "Starbucks church" philosophy. You need to be told that preaching is no longer effective and that your worth as a pastor is tied up in how many families you've managed to steal from that not-quite-as-hip church down the street.

Ugh. I always leave those things feeling absolutely drained. And yet I left the Magnifying God conference insanely energized. Why? Because the whole thing was built on the notion that it's not on our shoulders. God will extend His Kingdom and he will do it through the means that he has ordained. And praise God that we get to take part! God can and will use our churches, even if they don't sport fair trade coffee shops or host art house film festivals. Even if they've never been featured on the 6 o'clock news (Word and sacrament aren't viewed as headline grabbers by most). He can and does work through the preached Word, even when it isn't accompanied by sleek multimedia presentations.

At the end of the day, Calvinism is about the centrality and omnipotence of our God. So it makes sense that a conference about Calvin's legacy would center on the same thing. (That's why they called it "Magnifying God," not "Magnifying Calvin.") It also makes sense, in a paradoxical kind of way, that conferences designed around pastors and their perceived needs (i.e. "Magnifying Me" conferences) are a dead end, while a gathering designed around God and his glorious infinity, love, and grace still has me talking two weeks later.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Zach