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New Orleans, LA, United States
Family from South Africa, Born in New Orleans, Lived in South Carolina. Married to Annabeth since May 2004. We have three boys (Bolt, Mack, and Birk). Currently living in Uptown NOLA and serving as Lead Pastor of Vintage Church and Camp Pastor of Student MissionLab.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Reflections from A29

This past week, I spent Wednesday-Friday with Andrew Ogea in Dallas at an Acts 29 event. Our church is in the candidate phase of the membership process with this network. We are excited to join up with the brotherhood and mission. Here are a few quotes and thoughts from the trip:

  • Humility is a pursuit - Acts 29 gets branded as this group of young arrogant know-it-alls. That has not been my experience. From the leaders (Driscoll, Chandler, Patrick, Thomas) to the members and staff, everyone has been extremely genuine and concerned with Kingdom growth and church planting. I can tell that each person is battling pride and arrogance, but I noticed from the stage and in conversation that these men are pursuing humilty. We were invited to hang out with the A29 leaders and pastors after Driscoll's talk. It was cool to meet so many planters, each one extremely interested in our church. It was also cool to see Driscoll never sit down and instead walk around the room taking time to talk to each of us. We got to talk a little about Australia and NOLA. His humility and the rest of guys pursuit of humility was very inspiring.
  • This really is a movement - Driscoll laid out some elements of a movement on Wednesday night. Young Leaders, Converts, Church Planting, Unaware of Influence, Support Organizations Come Out, Transition and Influence of Technology, and Visible Movement Leaders Rise Up. Across the board, this is happening with Acts 29. God has placed a huge vision with this network, I am excited to be a part of the ride.
  • Matt Chandler rocked my face off - The man has an amazing gift. Here are some of his quotes from the weekend: "Where is the Word of God in church movements?", "You can't teach a man to divide if he can't add...so why are we just teaching hard doctrine to people who can't even practice common spiritual disciplines.", "Small group is not the only way to have true growth and community.", "Every leader has blind spots, that is why every leader needs rebuke.", "Your church has to pursue progressive sanctification.", "Progressive sanctification is a crawl, not a sprint.", "Two options for church growth (Organic Relational or Mechanical Linear). Maximize the pros of both. Doing either/or never works."
  • Reconnecting - I'd like to give a shout out to some my boys that I saw at the conference...Lan, Uriah, Tommy, Lorenzo, Brian, and Johnny. Keep in touch.
  • Remember the Sabbath - I got to hear a new voice at the conference. His name is JR Vassar. He is Lead Pastor of Apostles Church in NYC. He gave a powerful word on "Going Deep with Sabbath Rest". If this talk pops up online, I will definitely spread the word. It was extremely beneficial for Andrew and I as pastors, but everyone should hear it. His main drive was this fact, "To practice the Sabbath is to DETACH from the world, and ATTACH to God." Great stuff. He closed giving us some practical assignments in this pursuit. 1) Repent for our neglect of it. 2) Plan for it. 3) Prepare for the day. 4) Practice and work at it.
  • Dinner with Darrin Patrick - On Wednesday night before Driscoll's talk, we got to take Darrin Patrick out to dinner. Darrin is the Vice President of A29 and Lead Pastor of The Journey in St. Louis. I had previously spent some time with him over the phone and at his conference in St. Louis. First of all, this dude is a beast. I would have no problem getting into a fight if he was on my side. Drew and I were blown away by his interest in what God is doing at Vintage. This man is leading a church of thousands and is an extremely sought after speaker and yet he would take time to eat dinner with two little dipsticks from NOLA. Very cool. Darrin gave us some great advice. Thanks for hanging out with us bro.
  • You're not that important - In connection with the last bullet point. Drew and I were really inspired to never become too important for anyone. No matter where God takes us (whether large or small) we always want to be available. So many big name pastors get to a certain level and then detach from everyone. You have to call multiple secretaries just to leave a message that they will never hear. I know that people have to be wise and set boundaries, but it was a great lesson for us to learn. Rob, you are not that special.
  • Dang, tons of work...little staff - A29 is growing extremely fast. They have a church membership in the hundreds that consists of churches all over the world. Amazingly, they only have 4 staff members. Two full-time and two part-time. Scott Thomas and Tyler Powell are the muscle behind the machine. Tyler Powell is a freakin stud! This dude is the relational and organizational genius behind this monster. I don't know how he does it, but the job is getting done. I pray that God would surround Vintage with dudes like this.
  • Simplicity Works - Drew and I were blown away by the facilitates and simplicity of The Village. This church is drawing a crowd of over 6,000 people in two campus. To say that their Highland Village campus is attractive would be a stretch. They have focused on dynamic preaching and worship without two much glamour and complexity. Creativity certainly has a role, but we need to get away from thinking that is the main way that you grow a church. I am reminded of something my high school coach used to beat into our bodies and brains, "DO THE FUNDAMENTALS WELL".
  • PREACHING IS NOT DEAD - My favorite quote of the conference came from Mark Driscoll who emphasized a strong point to all these relational conversationist who are neglecting the preaching of God's Word. "Some people say that preaching is dead, I SAY ONLY IF YOU SUCK AT IT." Love it.
  • FUNNY MOMENT - On Thursday morning Drew and I went by Starbucks. He got his typical Chai Tea Latte. On the way up the stairs into the sanctuary, Drew completely wiped out landing face first on the ground. This was right in front of two couples. I learned a lot about my worship pastor. Instead of throwing his Bible and drink, he kept both in hand and bit the ground. Wow! What commitment to the Word and his hot drink! Drew, I am proud to have you on my team...just don't embarass me like that again.
On our flight home, Drew and I had tons to discuss. This was an inspiring trip!

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