6 Takeaways from TGC19

The Gospel Coalition held their 2019 conference here in Indianapolis, and it was a privilege to attend.  Below are my 6 takeaways from the conference:

1. DON’T LOVE POSSESSIONS OR PRAISE

John Piper’s exposition of Mark 8:31-38 opened up the text and allowed me to recognize that a love of possessions or a love of praise have no place in my life:

“Suppose you own everything: the world, everything. Not just Apple and Google, Mobile Oil—all of it! … Then you die, and instantly you realize it was suicide—it was eternal suicide. And suppose facing Jesus you say, ‘I’ll give you everything… in return for my soul.’  What do you think he will say? I think he will say this: ‘You would try to buy your soul with the very possessions that destroyed your soul? The very possessions that you preferred over me?’ Christ-replacing, Christ-belittling idols have no currency in heaven. And he will turn his face away and you will perish forever.”

Furthermore,

“Jesus is making clear there are two audiences for our lives”:

  • This “adulterous” and sinful generation
  • The Son of Man, the glorious Father, and millions of holy angels (a lot of glorious beings!)

“Whose approval do we crave most?  Whose praise are you most desperate not to lose? In whose presence do you fear most being shamed? Which relationship is most precious to you?”

2. SKEPTICS SHOULD BE WELCOME

I was challenged during a breakout panel with Stephen Um, Craig Ellis, Sam Allberry and Bethany Jenkins entitled “Skeptics Welcome: Helping Unbelievers to Doubt Their Doubts”:

  • In this most anxious graduating generation in history, with heightened suicide rates, Christians who represent Jesus should be the most safe place. We should help others realize we’re not seeking to weaponize our faith.
  • Let’s model an expectation that skeptics are at church and create a demeanor that says, “We expected you, you made the right move in being here, and we’re going to roll out the red carpet for you even though we know you don’t believe.”
  • Feel free to move from theoretical to personal. Sam Allberry quoted Ravi Zacharias in saying, “Don’t answer the question; answer the questioner.” Take their question seriously, but also feel free to ask: “How has that question affected you?” And allow them to share about their life and see your life.

3. THE GOSPEL IS GOING EVERYWHERE—PRAY FOR THAT

I met some Danish believers and heard about how the two siblings (both still in school) were seeking to be a light, even though the brother shared that he was part of the 1% of Christians in his school.  What a reminder to pray more often for the world and especially for these friends as the Lord brings their country to mind.

4. WE’RE NOT THE ONLY GOOD CHURCH WITH GOOD PASTORS

While I was at an alumni gathering for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I was encouraged to spend time with three of my former seminary classmates:

  • A young adults pastor in metropolitan Wichita
  • A Chinese church youth pastor
  • And a co-lead pastor in the Rocky Mountains

Each of us have a different church context, different size, and different staff team, but our hearts were very similar: we shared our desire to shepherd well, to see men and women discipled, and to seek God’s direction in what he wants for the next stages of our lives and our flocks. 

Praying with these men was one of my highlights.  Praise Jesus that he is shepherding his churches all over the country!

5. SUFFERING COUNTS—NOT JUST PLATFORM

During Trip Lee’s sermon, “Healing and Faith,” he shared about his own long-term journey with sickness and suffering, particularly enduring chronic fatigue syndrome.  I was bolstered to remember that God sees and rewards our faithfulness in suffering, not just our platform. 

6. THE WORLD NEEDS TO HEAR JESUS (FROM ME)

In his sermon on Mark 2:1-12 entitled “Paralysis and Forgiveness” David Platt offered a stirring picture of friends who broke through a roof to get their paralyzed companion to Jesus for healing—healing that was spiritual first, then physical. 

His five exhortations in evangelism were very needed for my heart:

  1. Make the proclamation of Jesus’ Word primary in a world of spiritual need
  2. Make the power of Jesus’ love evident in a world of physical need
  3. Persevere in personal evangelism that is full of faith
  4. Persevere in global missions focused on the unreached
  5. Never stop rejoicing in Jesus’ forgiveness of sin
Bob Martin

Bob Martin

Assistant Pastor of Small Groups & Membership

Bob first joined staff at College Park as a Pastoral Resident in 2011 and has served in several important roles since that time. In 2018, Bob became the Assistant Pastor of Small Groups & Membership. In this role, Bob gives leadership and direction to the Small Group ministry by recruiting, training, and supporting Small Group Leaders and Coaches, as well as overseeing the membership process and covenant member care. 

Bob is passionate about seeing men and women enter into community with others to find hope together. He enjoys spending time with his wife, family, and friends.