Well, I made it home. Our flight was delayed for a few hours while the ground crew changed one of the plane’s tires but we eventually climbed aboard and made our way home. In retrospect, taking the red-eye home was probably a bad idea. But at least I got home and am back with my family, even if I am dog tired!
I really enjoyed the Resolved Conference. It was far different from the other conferences I’ve had the privilege of attending. Though the speakers were the usual suspects, the audience was a far cry from most events I’ve been to. I thought I would jot down a few random observations (since random observations will be about all I can manage based on the three hours of sleep I’ve had in the past 24 or so).
This was a young crowd with the average age probably being only 20 or 21 (I’m not so good at guessing ages, but the average age couldn’t be too much higher than that). I have said this already, but I find it both amazing and inspiring that 3,000 young people showed up (with hundreds more being turned away when the conference filled up) to hear nine expository sermons and to witness a panel composed of a bunch of guys much older than them. These young people seemed like they just could not get enough of the preaching and were both willing and ready to be challenged by God’s Word. And they were.
The crowd was loud and enthusiastic! Gone was the muted restraint of the Shepherd’s Conference and other similar events. These people liked to worship and liked to worship loudly. I am uncertain whether the loud music necessitated loud singing or whether loud singing necessitated loud music, but either way, the singing was boisterous and, well, loud! Despite the volume, the crowd was respectful and dignified.
The atmosphere was different from what I am accustomed to. There was a lot of attention dedicated to lights and audio/visual details. The conference looked great and, as a person who deals with web sites and other marketing materials, I was really impressed with what a good job the organizers did with extended the “branding” of the conference to all aspects of the event. They used the technology available to them to enhance the conference rather than to overshadow it or take away from it.
I was surprised, though perhaps I shouldn’t have been, by the enthusiasm of the audience for the speakers. The speakers were liable to get swarmed if and when they ventured beyond the first two rows (which were typically off-limits for most people). I know that younger people tend to be a enthusiastic about autographs and photo opportunities and so on. But it still surprised me, perhaps, again, because typically young people wouldn’t care so much for men like John Piper or C.J. Mahaney or John MacArthur or Steve Lawson. And yet they are. And I can’t help but think that this is a good thing. These kids have certainly chosen well if they are looking for leaders to admire and to emulate. They could not do much better in choosing heroes. I’d be glad to see my children lining up to have their picture taken with men like this.
One of my favorite aspects of a conference is seeing various ministries in motion. I love to see the men and women of the ministries doing what they do and doing it for God’s glory. I love to see them serve. I can’t count the number of times I was asked if I needed anything, the number of times I was thanked for my contribution, and the number of people who were genuinely interested in me and those around me. Both humility and a clear desire to serve were evident throughout the event.
I was glad to see the conference begin and end with Bob Kauflin’s wonderful song “Let Your Kingdom Come.” I think this is a perfect song to end a conference as it takes the focus beyond the walls of the conference venue and to the world beyond. Rick Holland opened and closed the event with words about the local church, ensuring people knew that all that was said and done over the course of the weekend was designed to promote and assist the local church. Conferences come and go, but the local church is forever; the local church is the primary opportunity for ministry and service. I was glad to hear such an emphasis. It is easy to see conferences as isolated events involving just the people who were able to attend, but surely it is far more valuable to see them as opportunities to train and encourage people so they can go back to their natural contexts for ministry and service and teach others what they have learned.
Steve Lawson is one of the most talent expositors (and truthfully, perhaps the most talented expositor) of Scripture I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. When I take notes for his sermons, I often end up with 2,500 words or more. His teaching just resonates within my heart and mind. C.J. Mahaney has an amazing ability to draw deeply personal application. He never finishes a sermon without prodding the listener to examine his heart and to live a more godly life. John MacArthur is an exceptional teacher and potentially the most skilled Bible teacher I’ve heard. His knowledge and understanding of Scripture is almost unmatched. John Piper has the amazing ability to pursue theology to the ultimate. He pursues doctrine and theology for beyond the surface and does not quit until he has traced it to its deepest purpose, deepest meaning, and deepest application. As for Rick Holland…well, unfortunately I have only heard him speak one time so have little knowledge of his teaching ministry. However, from what was evident at the conference, he is a talented leader and one who garners the love and respect of those who serve with him. His desire to communicate deeply and personally with young Christians is obvious and his ability in doing this is shown in the lives of the young people who have been impacted by his ministry.
There is clearly a resurgence of Christianity among the Asian-American population. As John Piper said yesterday, God is clearly doing a work and is preparing to do a great work in and through these people. And I pray He does. I very much enjoyed meeting many of these people and rejoice in new friendships. (Here is what is no doubt a politically-incorrect aside, but I hope someone, and hopefully one of my Asian-American friends, can help me out. Why do Asians move in groups? We Caucasian folk tend to move and to hang out in twos; maybe threes. Asians seem to roam around in packs of six or eight or ten. What gives?)
The Resolved band is absolutely excellent. They are very talented and can do justice to a wide variety of styles of song. Rarely have I more enjoyed watching worship leaders worship. And in particular, I absolutely loved watching David Zimmer, the band’s drummer, worship God. This is my favorite photograph from the conference as it just seems to say it all. The band had fun worshiping and had fun leading us in worship. They did a great job.
Lukas VanDyke is an extraordinarily talented photographer (and just a good all-around guy). He was running around the venue the entire weekend and was kind enough to post some of his best photos from each of the days at his site.
Jonathan Rourke is a superstar. He is a fellow Canadian who somehow ended up in Los Angeles and seems to do most of the behind-the-scenes work for the conference. He was everywhere and did everything. The dedication of people like this–the ones who sit behind sound boards, who record the audio, who run the bookstore and who coordinate speakers, schedules, and the million and one other aspects of a conference–these are people who get little thanks and are surely deserving of some.
And that is about all I can dredge out of my mind at this point. It was an absolute honor to be the conference this weekend, to meet so many like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ, and to receive such encouragement from them. Resolved 2008 will be held in June of next year and will be in Palm Springs (which, when mentioned, seems to produce gasps of “Ooo…it’s going to be hot there” from people who know the area). It promises to be a great event and will focus on heaven and hell. MacArthur, Mahaney, Lawson and Randy Alcorn have already committed to the conference and there are several other invitations (i.e. John Piper) still outstanding.
The next conference on my schedule is the Shepherd’s Conference. I will be heading back to Los Angeles two weeks from today. Thankfully I have what looks like a better flight schedule for this one!