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Conference Season Begins

This time next week, if all goes well, I will be sitting on a plane, on my way to Los Angeles. I will be heading to the Terrace Theatre: Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center (that’s a mouth full!) to bring liveblogging of the Resolved Conference. This kicks off my 2007 liveblogging schedule–a schedule that is ridiculously full.

I never anticipated that I’d be traveling across the United States blogging conferences. It is really something that just kind of happened to me (much like just about everything else about this web site). Liveblogging is really a new phenomenon and one I am mostly making up as I go. There is really no model to follow and no objectively right way of doing it. I do enjoy liveblogging a great deal and am looking forward to all of the opportunities that are fast approaching. As I weighed various opportunities, I was struck by the diversity of ministries that are either distinctly Reformed or that appeal to a Reformed audience. This diversity quickly became my theme as I decided which invitations to accept and which to regretfully decline. I find it thrilling that I’ll have the opportunity to criss-cross the continent this year and see so many ministries in action. I find it unlikely that I will be offered or be able to accept such a variety in the future. Time will tell. But for this year I just couldn’t decline so many incredible opportunities.

There are conferences “seasons,” with most conferences being held in the spring or fall. My schedule reflects this. Here are the conferences I hope to attend this year.

I will be kicking off my Spring conference itinerary with the Resolved Conference, a conference inspired by the resolutions of Jonathan Edwards and geared towards a younger audience (I anticipate being one of the oldest people in the audience!). It is a ministry of Grace Community Church. I’ve invited one of the young guys (he’s single, ladies!) from our church to go along with me and am looking forward to spending the weekend with him. Speakers at this conference will be Rick Holland, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, C.J. Mahaney and John Piper. Can you think of a group of men better qualified to address this young crowd?

Two weeks after Resolved, I’ll be heading back to L.A. (this time with my pastor) for the Shepherd’s Conference which runs from the 6th until the 10th of March. This is also a ministry of Grace Church and is geared towards pastors. I was at this conference last year and enjoyed it a great deal. This year the conference is adding a “Scholar’s Desk,” a stand-up desk outside the main auditorium. At the desk there will be assigned scholars and topics with two or three scholars on duty during all of the time slots. Anyone who cares to drop by will be able to ask any question about the given topic. Topics will include student ministries, expository preaching, counseling, and so on. Another of the topics will be blogging, and they’ve asked me to serve at the desk during this time. It is not often that “scholar” and “blogger” are used together, so I will definitely take advantage of this opportunity. It ought to be fun. Speakers at this year’s conference are largely the same as last year: John MacArthur, Al Mohler, Steve Lawson, Ligon Duncan and John Piper. While the conference officially extends until the Sunday, I will head home on the Saturday.

The next conference is just a few days later! The Ligonier Conference begins on the 15th and runs until the 17th. The speakers at this conference are R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler and Ravi Zacharias. I will make my way down to Orlando and take in this conference with my brother-in-law.

Amazingly enough, all three of these conferences have filled up and have closed registration. I believe Ligonier will be the biggest with about 5,000 in attendance. The fact that all of these conferences are filled attests to the growing interest in conferences. I suspect the Internet has done wonders in making it easier to publicize these conferences and draw people to them. And, of course, all three of them have a great lineup of speakers. By this time I’m assuming that John Piper will consider taking out a restraining order against the weird Canadian guy that seems to be following him from conference to conference.

After Ligonier I’ll have a few weeks off and will then head for Mississippi for the Twin Lakes Fellowship. This conference is a ministry of Ligon Duncan’s First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi and is unique in that it is small and relatively unknown. Still, it promises to be very interesting. Speakers will include Ligon Duncan, Derek Thomas and Thabiti Anyabwile. I do believe this will be the first conference I’ll go to by myself!

Next up is The Basics: A Pastor’s Conference, which is held in Cleveland, Ohio from May 7-9. It is associated with Alistair Begg’s Parkside Church. Keith and Kristyn Getty will be leading worship. Speaking will be Alistair Begg, Derek Thomas, Edward Lobb and Voddie Baucham. I know very little about Alistair Begg, Truth for Life and Parkside Church and am really looking forward to learning more about them.

The final conference of the spring is New Attitude which runs from May 26-29 and is held in Louisville, Kentucky. This conference targets much the same crowd as Resolved and is sponsored by Sovereign Grace Ministries. The topic, spiritual discernment, is near and dear to my heart. I have often questioned the wisdom of submitting my book and then, just weeks later, going to hear John Piper, Josh Harris, Al Mohler, Eric Simmons, Mark Dever and C.J. Mahaney discuss the very same topic! It could prove very humbling. Aileen will be coming to this conference with me (her first conference!) so it will be great to spend the weekend with her.

Where my spring is going to be very busy, the fall looks lighter. The only conference I’ve committed to is the Alpha & Omega conference. It begins in Seattle and then heads to a cruise ship for a tour up the coast of the Pacific Northwest. It looks like I am unlikely to be at this year’s Desiring God conference, one I have been at for the past two years. There are another couples of opportunities I am weighing, but it seems likely that it will be a quiet fall for me.

So there you have it. I am eager to make these liveblogging opportunities as useful and edifying as they can possibly be. I want to be able to serve both the conference organizers and the people who read this site and am eager for any insight into how I can do that. So please, if there are aspects of my previous attempts at liveblogging that you have hated or there are some things you would like me to improve, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

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