Well, I’m back from another year of encouragement and fellowship at the Basics Conference, hosted by Parkside Church. This is the twelfth year of the conference and my eleventh year in attendance. I took 2006 off to go to the first Together for the Gospel conference, but have returned to the Basics as my one, must-go-to event every year. Why? Lots of reasons! Here are a few:
Cost. This isn’t the most important, but it is important–how am I going to best spend the money God has entrusted me with? Other conferences cost $250 or more and you get some good books, but you have to pay for all your meals, and you may already have half of the books you get. Basics costs $120 and includes all your meals and a gaggle of free resources. Seriously: in addition to a set number of items you receive at the beginning, they are constantly putting out free resources (dvd’s, cds’s, books, and booklets) on a large table or giving you deep discounts on great books. By deep, I mean What Is a Healthy Church Member by Anyabwile for $1.99 instead of $12.99 (I bought forty copies). And the meals provided aren’t lunch meat, do-it-yourself numbers. We’re talking chicken, ribs, and beef brisket! You can’t find a better deal.
Fellowship amongst pastors. Since everyone is eating together around tables, you get to meet people from all over the country and the world who are serving God as pastors. Because the group is much smaller than other conferences, there is a greater sense of fraternity. I’m getting to know men from my backyard as well as from Africa and Scotland and get to rejoice with them in ministry and pray for them and any problems they’re going through. I always walk away encouraged from spending time with these brothers.
Unique speakers. Sometimes a “big name” speaker will come for the Basics Conference, but more usually, I get to hear speakers from other countries that I might never of heard of, except in passing. Each time, these brothers have been amazing. This year it was Tico Rice and John Dickson. I’d heard of both men, but had never really been exposed to their teaching or ministry. What an amazing surprise!
Care. The volunteers who take care of you at Basics are members of Parkside, and its obvious that they love pastors. I have never seen people more willing and eager to serve the needs of others and show practical care that goes beyond expectations. If they can do something for you, they will, and it’s done with a smile. It’s encouraging and humbling to be so well cared for by people who don’t know you!
Spiritual tone. It’s amazing how well the few days and various speakers hold together in terms of spiritual atmosphere. It’s obvious that God comes down on that place and we are all the better for it. Call me an old softy, but I have never been to a Basics conference when I have not been reduced to tears at least once. There is always a sense of encouragement and conviction about our work as pastors which leads us to rejoice again and again in God’s grace, finding ourselves renewed in our love for him and his people.
In the end, I’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better. The Basics conferences are an amazing thing that I never expected to be so rare among Christian conferences. After going to lots of others, I make it a priority to keep coming back. Please don’t misunderstand: I’m not denigrating other conferences. I’ve been to and have benefited from Desiring God, T4G, and the PCRT conferences. They were great and I’m thankful for them! But Basics stands as a rare jewel amongst the rest.
Here Are the Resources from this Year’s Conference
This year’s theme was “do the work of an evangelist.” To be honest, after a while you think you might have heard it all before. Then God humbles you under the preaching of his word. Even familiar texts are presented in fresh ways and perspectives and angles you’ve never thought of are brought to the forefront of your thinking. The speakers were all right on target, giving biblically-driven, pastorally-minded, church-building messages. It was a Word feast for three days! I
‘ve haven’t listened to all of the break out sessions yet. However, I can tell you that all of the main sessions are excellent, especially Rico Tice’s “Evangelism and Holiness.” From the breakouts, John Dickson’s “What Is the Gospel?” was a real, surprise treat as well!
Alistair Begg Jesus as Evangelist Part One
Alistair Begg Jesus as Evangelist Part Two
John Dickson The Medium and the Message Part One
John Dickson The Medium and the Message Part Two
Rico Tice Letting Mark’s Gospel tell the Gospel
Rico Tice Evangelism and Holiness
Alistair Begg, John Dickson, Rico Tice Panel Question Time
Carl Anderson & Eric Snyder Shepherding as a Lay-Elder
Tico Rice Christianity Explored
Alistair Begg Preaching Evangelistic Sermons
Scott Kennedy Developing Young Men for Pastoral Ministry
John Dickson What Exactly is the Gospel