What I Got from the 2020 Bethlehem Conference

This is the second time I have had the privilege to attend the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders and I just adore it. I got to hear John Piper, (a personal hero of mine) speak in person, I met new people, and connected with cherished friends that I rarely see.

It is always a delight and privilege to hear John Piper speak in person.
It is always a delight and privilege to hear John Piper speak in person.

Why do you love this conference?

No other conference I have been to is so God-centered, well-organized, passionately focused on the most important things, and diverse. It’s so diverse! Not only is there a healthy spread of ministry leaders from around the country, but I love ethnic diversity and gender diversity, as well. It’s a real taste of the diverse beauty of the body of Christ. Mostly though, I just love how deeply and passionately people love Christ together here.

They called it a bookstore. I called it pre-heaven.
They called it a bookstore. I called it pre-heaven.

Who did you get to connect with?

Apart from getting some quality time with my main parter in ministry, my own Senior Pastor, Pastor Tom Long, I got to see one of my best friends (and the person who led me to Christ in college) Pastor Joey Rozek. Joey planted a church in Freehold NJ, called Living Springs Christian Fellowship and is one of the most eternally-minded people I have ever known. So great to see him!

Pastor Tom and I heading to Minneapolis
Pastor Tom and I heading to Minneapolis
Meeting up with Pastor
Meeting up with Pastor Joey for the first time in years!

Last year I went to my first ever MacStock Conference and connected with two Christian brothers: Mike Schmitz and Joe Buhlig. Mike came on my radar when I discovered his Faith-Based Productivity course and I got to know Joe at the conference and discovered that Mike and Joe do a podcast together called Bookworm. It worked out that they were semi-local to the conference venue and made the time to come down and hang with me! I am still honored and blessed by the gesture. Plus we ate the most glorious burgers ever at Red Cow. No, seriously. It was the burger of a lifetime. I would visit Minneapolis again just to eat there, it was that good, people. Just do it. I digress…

Dinner at Red Cow with the Bookworm guys, Mike Schmitz and Joe Buhlig
Dinner at Red Cow with the Bookworm guys, Mike Schmitz and Joe Buhlig

Our women’s ministry has been using Jen Wilkin’s resources for Bible Study and she is one of the most impressive Bible teachers I have ever seen. Her God-centered teaching has deeply blessed our women’s ministry and since she was speaking at the conference, I got to thank her in person for her impact. The coolest part was when I said, “Jen, I want 50 more of you”. (meaning I want to see more Bible-saturated, God-centered female Bible teachers like you). She lit up! Her response, “I think that one of the reason my platform is what it is shows that women are hungry for the glory of God.” She is a gift to the body of Christ and I am grateful to connect with her.

You can see her first message here: No Other Gods: Fearing Rightly in the Last Days

You can see her second message here: Redeeming the Time: Discerning and Doing God’s Will in the Last Days

How did this conference help you connect with your purpose?

For me, I have always loved the world of ministry (theology, philosophy, church life, Bible Study, worship) but I have also loved the world of productivity (planning, getting things done, processes, workflow, systems, tools), as well. It really hit me while I was at this conference, that I am uniquely positioned to show how these two worlds collide.

I mentioned this in my previous post, but it was because of the reflection time I had at this conference that the phrase “Productivity in Light of Eternity” settled in my heart. I feel like the more we see and savor the glory and majesty of God, the more it prepares us to be productive in light of His eternal reality. Productivity is only really productive when done in light of eternity.

I feel like my purpose is to make disciples. That isn’t new, but it was the integration of both worlds that I love deeply (productivity and eternity) that was new and sweet to my heart.

Cool to see Matt Perman's Books on Gospel-Driven Productivity, "What's Best Next" and "How to Get Unstuck" on display at the conference. These are some of the best resources out there that discuss productivity and eternity.
Cool to see Matt Perman’s Books on Gospel-Driven Productivity, “What’s Best Next” and “How to Get Unstuck” on display at the conference. These are some of the best resources out there that discuss productivity and eternity.
I even texted Matt my excitement!
I even texted Matt my excitement!

How did this conference help you savor God’s Glory?

The quality of the teaching. It is just so good. See more on that from the posts I have coming about my notes from each session.

How did this conference help you realign your heart?

The past year for me personally has not been a year with the kind of eternal mindset that I want my life to be about. It was a crazy year with a lot of change, and I feel like my prayer and intimacy with God suffered because I simply had an earthly mindset most of the time. Being here helped me re-center myself to keep eternity in mind during the craziness of every day life. There is no substitute for being in a place where the Spirit of God is central to the gathering. I left feeling refreshed and refocused, and even more clear on my contribution to the body of Christ going forward.

Three pastors leaving the conference blessed and refreshed
Three pastors leaving the conference blessed and refreshed

How did this conference help you figure out what to do with your blog?

I always wanted somewhere to geek out publicly, but didn’t want my blog just be a place for tech tips and pastoral reflections. I wanted to offer training and insight that connects the best of our temporal world with the reality of eternity. I wanted my “why” to be clear, compelling and helpful. Making my blog a place where I can write and reflect about great apps, books, tools, and other resources that I really love, but do so in a way that asks “How can this be used in an eternal way?” really excited me felt in alignment with how God has wired me.

Brainstoring about my blog after coming home from the conference
Brainstoring about my blog after coming home from the conference

The page for next year’s Conference is already up, and you should definitely consider going next year if possible. The theme is “Gospel Love: Ministry that is Not a Clanging Cymbal”.

I hope to see you there!

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