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Stand for the Gospel Conference 2012, Friday Night

13 Oct

It finally arrived – the time for this year’s conference to begin. We praise The Lord for all those who have been serving for months to make this year’s conference possible. The folks at Howick Baptist Church (along with some friends) continue to serve as wonderful hosts!

Last night we gathered together from all over New Zealand (though mostly from the Auckland area with a few from Australia) to encourage one another in fellowship, unite our voices together in praise to God the Father because of God the Son through the power of God the Spirit, corporately confess our commitment to the Gospel, & to be challenge and changed by the power of God’s Word preached.

We are so grateful for the privilege of hosting Pastor Conrad Mbewe again this year. (He was the conference’s inaugural speaker in 2010.) He powerfully challenged all of us of “The Need for Saving Faith” from Romans 10.

William Chong (though quite sick himself) and his music team capably lead us in corporate praise, adoration, confession, and commitment through the use of well chosen songs and other key elements of corporate worship.

In about three hours, day two and our longest day of the conference, will begin. We pray for The Lord to change us by His Word, unite us together in faithful Gospel proclamation, and enable us to live more faithfully in all areas of our life and calling.

One observation we have made this year in looking at the registrations, is that we are now at a place with this conference, where the majority of attendees are between the ages of 20 & 40. As I mentioned last night this is something to be thankful to The Lord for and very encouraging as this represents the immediate future of the church.

A similar observation which I didn’t mention (though I may today) which is not encouraging is our smallest age group represented is the 40 to 50 years olds. This is concerning to me for two reasons: 1) this group ought to be our current church leaders, 2) this group is generally the parents of today’s teens.

Granted at this conference we are not looking at huge numbers so the difference in percentages here are small. However, this is consistent with what I see across the “church” in New Zealand. God is moving in the lives of our 20 to 30 year olds and we are seeing real spiritual and numerical growth. However, at the same time the “middle-age” group is, at best stagnant, and even declining.

Again, this is concerning as this group represents the phase of life ideally suited for church leadership and yet we are seeing more and more here who are keen on sport, fishing, their garden or home, and not the Gospel of Christ and sound doctrine.

Additionally, this is concerning as this group (the 40 to 50 year olds) generally represent the parents of today’s teens. If the parents are not cultivating a love for Christ, His Word, and centring their lives around the glory of the Gospel then it is unlikely their teens will.

As I have read D. A. Carson say in more that one place, “My students [children] will not remember all that I teach them. They are most likely to remember that of which I am most excited.”

As parents of teens, if you are most excited about anything other than Christ, don’t be shocked when your teens are too!

Obviously this isn’t a review of the first night really, more just some random reflections as we begin the weekend.

Lord willing, in three hours we will be gathered together again asking God to do a work in our hearts!

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