This past week I attended the Shepherding Conference at Greenwood Hills and was tremendously blessed by the ministry, fellowship, and prayer. It is my desire to recount a few of the highlights from the meetings I enjoyed. The first meeting was given by Mike Attwood.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:10-12
With the idea of encouraging the shepherds of local assemblies, Mike spoke on the topic of living as an example before the flock. He began by reminding us that our lives should be marked by love: love for God and love for the people in our meetings.
He then explained that one of the largest problems in the assemblies in America today is “the cloud of spiritual apathy” that hangs over our congregation. We are people who have so much, yet care so little. In assembly circles it is easy to find people who are content with the status quo: meeting on Sunday for the breaking of bread, “fellowshipping” for a half an hour afterward, and going home, never to interact with their fellow brothers and sisters until the following Sunday. (Some show up to the midweek meeting; but is that out of a love for the scripture and others or out of a sense of religious duty?) I’m guilty of this myself. Over time I’ve seen my preparation for the breaking of bread dwindle to a bare minimum. I’ve also realized that there are many people that I have seen at church over the past 3 years, yet I’ve never spent much time getting to know them.
With a powerful illustration, similar to “polishing the brass on the Titanic,” Mike reminded us that we are living in a world that is reserved for fire. He compared the world to a house that had been condemned. He continued to say that we are living in this house and if we look out the window we will see bulldozers making their way up the driveway to begin the demolition. He asked if it made more sense to spend our time cleaning the windows of this house or getting out and making a real difference in the world.
In his concluding thoughts, Mike taught that it would take individual repentance and a commitment to personal holiness for anything to change. This is especially necessary among the leaders of local flocks. If the elders are not living lives of holiness, devoting themselves to sharing the gospel with others, and shaking off their own apathy, it will be an uphill battle when they try and convince others to do so.
So, with eternity in view, let us look for the soon return of our Lord Jesus and get to work.