This morning I was reminded that six years ago today, I was in North Carolina with a group of friends for the Advance the Church conference. The group of guys had been meeting on occasion to discuss life and theology. All of us part of the same church but each with their own unique bag of theological tricks. (Most of these guys would become the “Cabal,” our group of 7 sharing pints and pontificating).
For me I remember the trip as pivotal in my continued discovery of the doctrine of grace. I brought Grudem’s Biblical Doctrine to read in the church van on the drive down from D.C. (I think I read one paragraph on the whole trip). Every inch of that trip was full of discussion of faith and ministry. By then I had been listening to Keller sermons and reading Packer and others but it was the first time I heard Piper, Chandler, Greear, Stetzer and Driscoll preach live. And their calls to gospel-drenched ministry was invigorating. It confirmed what I knew I was missing.
It wouldn’t be long before I was convinced that Stacy and I needed to shift our lives and launch into preparation for vocational ministry.
From conversations about the existence of Hell over Carolina BBQ to challenging talk of what was lacking in our church experience, the guys on the trip were used by the Lord to stir me toward himself. Thankful for those guys, and thankful for the preaching of the gospel.