Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Driscoll in Australia

A week of Driscoll

I am quite a fan of Driscoll. I thank God for a gifted preacher, teacher, and communicator of God’s Word, and greatly benefit from listening to his sermons. So I have been quite looking forward to his visit to Australia

But my first encounter with him was totally unexpected. It was wednesday and I was in at college heading for my postgrad German class, and he walked out of the dining hall, and I had that moment when you see someone you know but totally out of context. There certainly wasn’t the moment for a brief word of thanks and introduction, but I gave the man a nod and went on to my German class. He went and spoke to the college community about Preaching in the 21st Century, and I have downloaded the talk from the college website. That was an excellent talk that I gained much out of when I listened to it.

The second occasion was “Burn Your Plastic Jesus” - an event held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, which holds about 10,000, and most of the seats (over 9000 at least) were taken. Driscoll spoke for an hour and a half, on false views of Jesus in Australia, took some questions, and presented a picture of Jesus from the Scriptures. Having listened to many of his sermons, and a few on video, it was a new experience to listen to him live. I was more impressed by his gift to understand and apply to the cultural context, in that he clearly had spent time both looking at the research, as well as getting to know Sydney and its people, so that much of what he said had direct impact. He is also very funny, which helps a great deal if you are going to speak for a long time. The whole night was greatly encouraging. One of the guys from my church, mentally disabled, did make the comment that I “was less boring than him”, which will now be my main advertising line! I think it’s because my sermons haven’t hit the hour mark yet.

Engage:

Is a conference designed for workers, particularly young workers. I took a group of 12 up, 11 from my church, and we stayed in a house at Wentworth Falls. There were 4 talks from Driscoll, and 2 from Don Carson. Driscoll’s first talk hit home on Regeneration vs. Religion, and looked at John 1 and 3. His second session took us on to John 4 and extended some of the content of his first talk. Both talks gave a lot of food for thought and fired up some of my group with thoughts, discussion, and stirrings of the soul. His third session was basically an hour or more of question time, and his final talk was John 10 and thinking about sheep, shepherds, and Jesus the good shepherd. This was Driscoll up a notch from the wednesday night. Carson was solidly exegetical over his two talks.

Ministry Intensive:

My last Driscoll opportunity was Monday. Over monday and tuesday there was a ministry intensive conference at the cathedral in Sydney. Driscoll gave two talks on the Monday, and there were also talks from Don Carson and Kent Hughes. These were the two best and most relevant talks I heard from Driscoll during his time in Australia. In his first he outlined the need for missiological thinking and practice, using Acts 17 as a basis. This is the kind of thinking I love Driscoll for and feel our church(es) sorely need. In his second talk Driscoll came out and delivered 18 “Theses on what is wrong in Sydney” (that’s not what he called it, but that’s what it was). My good friend Mike who is staying for the week, has an excellent summary of them. I was deeply encouraged, convicted, rebuked, and motivated by this talk.

In conclusion, I have thoroughly enjoyed Driscoll’s visit to Australia. He’s a faithful and relevant and influential christian leader with a lot to say, and a lot worth saying. What I take away from this last week is not a greater appreciation of Mark, but a deep sense of conviction towards Jesus and what it looks like to proclaim Jesus in my own context and life.

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