As I reflect on the Together for the Gospel 2014 conference that just ended, I am still trying to soak it all in. Here are a few of my initial observations and reflections from the conference.
T4G 2014 Observations:
- Demographics: There were over 8,000 people present, most of whom seemed under the age of 35. They announced that over 3,000 of the attendees were Southern Baptists. People from over 100 countries watched via the live streaming online. The overwhelming majority of people present were white males, although there were some other races and ethnicities present. Also, as would be expected at a pastor’s conference, there were few women.
- The singing was incredible. Relatively few times in history have 8,000 (mostly) men sung praises to the Lord in unison. It was a blessing to witness, and makes me anticipate what the praise in heaven will sound like.
- The conference seemed to run very smoothly, which is a gift from the Lord. The logistics involved in putting together an event of that size are mind-boggling. Plus, you have to believe that Satan was working to squelch the effects of such an event. God be praised.
T4G 2014 Reflections:
- The mood of the messages was sobering, yet optimistic.
- Sobering: Dever set the tone by opening the conference’s first message with a description of the animosity shown by the world towards Christianity. MacArthur’s biographical and biblical (John 6) description of the pain caused by apostates was heart-wrenching. Platt’s description of the deplorable physical and spiritual state of the third world (specifically Nepal) was eye-opening.
- Optimistic: DeYoung’s message reminded believers of our unshakable foundation: scripture. Duncan’s message extolled the excellencies of Christ and His glorious ability to cleanse the most unclean. Piper encouraged hearers to courageously spread the gospel in light of God’s rock-solid promises and sure predestination. The fields are ripe for the harvest, as God has intended.
- The ethos of the event was clearly evangelistic and mission-minded. Each message drove home both the dire and urgent need for evangelization and the assured victory of God’s plan for His people. If the messages are any indication of the practical side of the doctrines of grace, then the claim that ‘Calvinism kills missions’ is in no way applicable to this conference.
- While the conference is the fruit of resurging Reformed theology, the event itself was very church focused. This is quite surprising given the trans-denominational nature of the conference. Multiple times did the speakers encourage pastors in the leading of their churches. A panel discussion on denominations encouraged all present to collaborate with other like-minded churches in some way and to not give up on the denominations unless absolutely necessary. This was a message that many of my generation needed to hear.
- Kevin DeYoung’s message on scripture was the highlight of the event for me. Do yourself a favor and watch the footage when it is posted. Several times during the conference did the speakers remark about the necessity of a strong doctrine of scripture. I believe they are right to say that this doctrine will be the one upon which the church will stand or fall. I hope my generation heeds this warning.
- Ligon Duncan’s message from Numbers 5 was a magnificent example of how to preach the Old Testament. Just like his masterful work at T4G12, Duncan shows how the gospel can (and should) be preached from the whole bible.
- It could just be that I am spoiled and ungrateful, but it is disappointing that the video of the messages from this year’s conference will only be available for free for a limited time. I suppose that even digital oxen shouldn’t be muzzled. In any case, you should make it a priority to watch to the messages before June 1st. After that, you have to pay for a subscription. **
I eagerly look forward to T4G16. Until then, I hope the messages from this meeting make a huge impact for the kingdom. I know they have in me already. The truth of God’s grace is still reverberating in my soul because of the faithful labors of the conference hosts. I hope you can join us next time!
PS- I would love to hear some of your observations an reflections. Leave me some comments.
**Update (4/13/14): T4G and MinistryGrid have removed the login and pay requirements for the videos. I am grateful for the change, and especially grateful for Lifeway’s generous work in hosting/producing the media, despite the undoubtedly large costs and labor involved.