We are packed in to the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House Hotel, a huge hotel in the downtown core of Louisville, Kentucky. We’re shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee. The room is packed from back to front with men who have come to hear about the gospel. The room is filled to overflowing and the organizers had to turn away hundreds more. What a beautiful thing it is to be together for the gospel.
We are in a great ballroom. Huge chandeliers hang overhead. A lighting truss surrounds a stage that is flanked by two large screens which alternate between footage of the current speaker and shots of the audience. Immediately behind the pulpit–a small, open pulpit–is a three-part Together for the Gospel banner. A sea of chairs, stretching to the furthest reaches of the room, face the stage.
To begin the conference, Mark Dever gave away gift certificates to the man who came furthest to attend the conference (he was from India), the man who had been a pastor for the longest (50 years) and the pastor who had been the main preacher at his church the longest (45 years).
Dever explained that these men are not together on what to wear, on what pulpit to use or on what songs to sing or on what music to play. Mark suggested that if any Sovereign Grace guys are present, they be given access to the aisle seat so they can move around a little bit. They are not together on applause or on “amen’s.” The Sovereign Grace folk will surely be vocal in letting you know their agreement, Baptists will mumble a polite “amen,” whereas Presbyterians believe that silence is consent. Neither are they together on how to introduce the speakers. Mark encouraged us to make a game of this and during the week keep track of all things that these men are not together on. “Together for the ___________ [fill in the blank].” We are free to keep track of all the things they are not together on. If you are at the conference this week, feel free to post a comment with other things they are not together about.
Mark concluded his introduction with a brief explanation of the purpose of this conference. He explained that the keynote speakers–Sproul, MacArthur and Piper–were merely bait used to bring together all of these pastors–thousands of them–so they could meet together here, to form relationships with people from their local area. They are together to celebrate the centrality of the gospel and to take that focus to their church homes.
After mark left the stage, Bob Kauflin led us in a couple of hymns. This led to C.J. Mahaney taking the stage to provide a brief monologue, to explain the choice of the books we have been given thus far (The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter which was published 350 years ago this month and The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander along with one of three 9Marks booklets.) and to introduce his friend Mark Dever.
If you happen to be at the conference and would like to say “hello,” I am sitting immediately to the right of the sound booth. Feel free to drop by!