Our host, John Piper had taken some heat pre-conference by inviting Rick Warren of Saddleback to speak. In the end he couldn’t make it and spoke on video, this was disappointing all round, especially as the round table discussion planned with Piper might have yielded some interesting points. Warren certainly quoted lots of Scripture and offered his usual approach to practical application – three rules for this, five principles to help you with that, ten steps to healthy whatever – there was certainly a challenge to look over my recent sermons and ask the ‘so what?’ question. I think Piper got it right when he expressed awe at the sheer communicative skill of the man but also concern about the dangers of a ministry built on application. In the end we want people not just to survive the immediate local difficulty they are going though but to lay a foundation of biblical truth that will still be with them in 30 years time. The only other observation about this invitation comes from the reaction to ordinary folks at the conference, these were not pastors and some had obviously struggled in churches and in groups where Rick Warren’s pragmatic and programatic material had caused real confusion and some pain.