And besides, what is the point of ministry conferences anyway—do they actually change anyone or anything?
There was a moment of awkward silence in the room when the question was asked.
Some friends and I were meeting to talk about launching Nexus as an annual Sydney-based ministry conference, and one of us had asked the key question. Given the time and resources involved in organising and running such a conference, not to mention the time and resources invested by gospel ministers to attend, was it worth it? What would actually be achieved, apart from a bit of temporary uplift and a day off from the weekly grind? Would the Productivity Commission give it the thumbs up?
As we talked, we realised that this was a theological question, about what ministry was, and about how ministers change. In the end, we concluded that the answer was similar to the answer we would want to give about why we go to church. We meet together in church because of who we are and who Christ is, because his plan for us is to become like him as his saved people, because the natural bent of our hearts is in the other direction, and because the means God has given us to repent and grow and change is his Word prayerfully spoken and explained, over and over again, in fellowship with one another. It’s the regular cumulative effect of this prayerful engagement with God in his word with one another that brings change, sometimes quickly, sometimes more gradually.
This is also why gospel workers need to get together—to be sharpened and challenged and changed in our ministries by the truth of the Bible, spoken clearly to one another in fellowship. And as my friends and I looked around the landscape here in our part of the world (in Sydney), we felt that there were in fact remarkably few effective, ongoing opportunities to do that.
And so we decided to launch Nexus—an annual evangelical ministry conference, where gospel ministers can gather around the Bible to sharpen and challenge one another theologically as gospel ministers (and trainee ministers), to talk through the practical implications together, and to build a fellowship of like-minded brothers and sisters for the long haul. (Hence the tagline: where theology, ministry and fellow workers meet.)
This first conference we hope will set the tone by going back to the ‘DNA’, to the essentials of what it means to minister the biblical gospel of Jesus in our churches and to the world. Here’s a quick overview of the program:
- Peter Jensen will open with an exposition of Acts 20 and Paul’s stirring charge to the Ephesian elders.
- Peter Orr (NT lecturer at Moore) will follow that with a paper on ‘Abounding in the work of the Lord: the eschatological priority of gospel work for every Christian’. This is a follow-up and expansion on his excellent recent article in Themelios on 1 Cor 15:58.
- After lunch, Archie Poulos (Ministry lecturer at Moore) will seek to ‘isolate’ the DNA; that is, to ask whether the New Testament has a ‘theology of ministry’ and (if so!) what it is.
- We’ll then be hearing snapshots from five gospel ministers (from Sydney, Geelong, the Central Coast and Mexico!) about what this DNA looks like in practice in their particular contexts.
- Richard Chin (National Director of AFES) will then talk to us about where and how we lose sight of these essentials, based on his experience of ministries all around Australia and overseas.
- Just before the dinner break, ‘Controversy Corner’ will feature a panel discussion about a current hot topic—the ‘portfolio’ approach to deploying pastors versus the ‘congregational’ model.
- And after dinner (which is provided), the day concludes with Carl Matthei (Senior Pastor at Unichurch/UNSW) and Phil Colgan (Senior Pastor, St George North) exploring the much-misunderstood concept of ‘training’—what it is, and why it’s so vital to growing gospel ministry.
It’s a high quality program, and we’d love you to join us. This year’s Nexus is on May 26 at the Village Church in Annandale (so now would be a good time to register!). And if you’re outside Sydney and would like to join us virtually, there will be a live-stream of the content.
We hope to see you there.