I am at the dwell conference in New York City – a cohort conference of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and Redeemer Presbyterian Church Planting Network. I am here with a good friend from Savannah, GA and have met another fellow in north Atlanta. It is exciting to see people who want to put good theology into good practice.
People are milling about, grabbing coffee and talking about where they’re from and what they do. I am at a table with five PCA guys and three SBC guys (myself included). Conversations are already begun with regards to what God is doing in their respective ministries and church plants – hard things, good things, attempts to fill a void where the Gospel needs to penetrate the culture. So many of these men have sought to plant a church because, although there are plenty of churches, they are not seeing those churches reach their neighbors with life-transforming truths.
Scott Thomas (Acts 29 Network) and Mark Reynolds (Redeemer Church Planting Center) welcome us and let us know that the tight quarters we are in should help us appreciate the nature of the city and dwelling close together. They remind us that there are only 400 registered participants.
This is going to be an integrated, learning experience. I can already see that this is going to be very different than any other conference I have been to. That is, we are not going to just sit and listen, but we are going to interact with each other.
Tim Smith leads us in singing. We start with “Come, Ye Sinners” with a slide guitar, then “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” finishing with “Man of Sorrows.” The last song was particularly interesting because I could sense the congregation wanting to sing it in the original tune (it was a new rendition that was quite different). At first, I must admit, I was a little uneasy about trying to sing this song I love so dearly in a new key. After the second verse, however, I found myself appreciating the words afresh. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we will and should sing a new song. We begin to appreciate the words more and have a greater tendency to want to mean them when we sing them.