CONFERENCES: FEB Central Regional Conference

FEB Central Regional Conference
Posted on March 24, 2015  in Blog, Conferences

Today and yesterday evening was this year’s annual FEB Central Regional Conference.  In the past I’ve attended these events without giving any update or window into what goes on, which is a really bad practice.  So, here’s my attempt to give you a proper window into what was shared over these last two days.  Much more could be said than I’ve included below, so if you’re looking for more information on any of the various ministries associated with FEB Central you can visit their website here.
The Speaker and Messages
This year’s conference speaker was Jerry Gilles from The Chapel in Buffalo, NY, who served us well with three rich sessions in the Word.  Here are some of the main points and standout comments that stuck to the wall for me.
In the first session the focus was on the resurrection, where Jerry not only exegeted the Scriptures, but also the culture, with emphasis on how much the afterlife matter to people everywhere.  As Christians, though, our emphasis isn’t on some ethereal, “namby-pamby” existence.  Our emphasis is on the resurrection, rooted in the resurrection of our Lord.  That’s what makes what the good news we have to share distinct.  His two main points were: 1) there is life after death, and 2) there is life after “life after death.”  The intermediate state (which you’ll be hearing more about from me next month) is not our end goal.  The resurrection of our bodies and inhabiting and new heavens and a new earth is.
The second session followed from this foundation of resurrection, of new creation, as we heard from Galatians 6:12-15.  In a nutshell the main point was this: we cannot bring the old world of the flesh into the new world of the spirit.  The flesh doesn’t count in salvation.  The flesh doesn’t count in our spiritual growth or maturity.  Like those who were troubling the Galatians, we try to selfishly impress people, we try to selfishly stay comfortable and we are selfishly hypocritical.  In other words, the flesh tries to manufacture the life we can only have by the Spirit.  This doesn’t fit with the resurrection and new creation.  We can’t manufacture that.  Only God can.  So what is our response to this?  Threefold: 1) Feast on Jesus’ words (John 6:63); 2) Set our mind on the Spirit (Romans 8:5-13); 3) Have a “no borders, yes heart” to the Spirit’s leading.  This last point rocked me the most.  As God’s people led by the Spirit, Jerry challenged us to put our “Yes” on the table before God asks the question.  I was feeling pretty uncomfortable after this.  Thankfully the break followed allowing some time for some processing.
The third session was related to vision, which was surprisingly refreshing because it’s one of those words that gets thrown around a lot.  Sometimes, as Gilles put it, vision is nothing more than ideas that generate activity.  What shapes good vision, however, lifted from Proverbs 29:18 is: 1) Purity of heart; 2) Purpose of God; 3) Perspective of the future.
If you’re interested in listening to them in full, let me know and I’ll point you to them once they are online (as I’m sure they will be).
Ministry Updates
During the afternoon we heard updates from Bob Flemming (Regional Director), Tom Haines, and Godfrey Thorogood.  In the same order, each of these FEB Central ministry staff have a specific focus: church health, church planting, and leadership development.
Significant emphasis was given to church planting, where a tremendous amount of work is being done to plant new churches to reach the 15 million people who reside in the FEB Central Region of Canada (Ontario and English speaking Quebec).  Among those 15 million are 40-60% of Canada’s Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist population.  This is a staggering statistic revealing the incredible opportunity we have right here in our province for reaching the nations with the gospel.  Can you imagine reaching people groups in Canada with the possibility of some returning to their home countries, already familiar with the language and the culture, to share the gospel there too?  Amazing…
Here are some other fascinating metrics, some of which were shared by Darryl Dash, church planter and newly hired part-time staff member, who will be overseeing training for urban church planters burdened for the city of Toronto.  You’re 1.5 times more likely to run into a Buddhist in Toronto than you are a baptist.  If we only reached 0.5% of the population of Toronto with the gospel, it would require the planting of over 150 churches.  Darryl’s follow up to this was something along the lines of, “And I can’t imagine any of us being content to stand before the Lord only having reached 0.5% of the population with the gospel.”  That number blows my mind, and highlights the incredible need to be reaching others with the gospel, as well as training pastors and leaders for the present and future.  Though an enormous task, we are citizens of a new kingdom with a Risen Lord, who has equipped and empowered us to be His witnesses!
To help with this task, Ian Elliott will also join the FEB Central staff on a part-time basis to assist with the 24 church planters currently involved in birthing or growing a new work.  Twenty years ago Ian planted Cedar Creek Community Church here in Cambridge, is still there, and has also taught at Heritage for the same amount of time.
We also heard from Rick Reed, President of Heritage, Steve Jones, our National President, and each of the representatives from the different ministries.
If you want more information, let me know.  The 2015 budget was passed, new people were elected to the regional board, how much each FEB Central church supports the region was published, and much more.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference, especially as Don Carson is the scheduled speaker.  You might be interested to know that Allistair Begg is also scheduled to speak at next year’s pastor’s conference.  Those are two men whose ministries I would delight to sit under any day of the week!

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