Tag: the cove

I’m at The Cove this week

photo1I’m back at The Cove this week leading conferences for the Billy Graham School of Evangelism.  Yesterday we covered “Keys to Thriving in the Smaller Church.”  About 150 pastors, spouses, and church leaders attended the back-t0-back sessions and offered great stories from their own small churches.

Today I’m leading a second session on “Using Social Media in Outreach” at 11:45 am.  The first one went well yesterday, and all the techie stuff worked, unlike last May when we had “technical difficulties beyond our control.”

This afternoon, I’ll wrap-up with two more back-to-back sessions on “Outreach Ideas to Help Your Church Change Your Community.”  I’ll tell the story of what our church has been doing, plus the stories of other smaller congregations that are doing some amazing things in ministry. Later this week I’ll post the powerpoints to both the church seminars.

The Cove nestles into the unspoiled vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, NC.  The Billy Graham School of Evangelism offers pastors and church leaders inspiration, information, and lots of free resources.  If you haven’t been, check out the Schools for next year.  You’ll be glad you came!

A new commitment to the old story

photo5I led a couple of seminars at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism this week, but we’re the ones who received a blessing by being there.  Everything about the week was encouraging to the participants, including Debbie and me.

The School of Evangelism staff was wonderful.  This was Tom Bledsoe’s last SOE, and he’s been directing these schools for 39 years.  Tom’s gracious hospitality and gentle spirit set the tone for the staff team.  From the housekeepers to the restaurant hostesses to the program personalities, gracious hospitality was the hallmark of the event.

The Cove setting is magnificent — perched on the side of a mountain near Asheville, North Carolina — with postcard views of Blue Ridge Mountain vistas.  The design of each building blends appropriately into the natural scenery.  Wood, stone, glass, and ironwork give you the sense of rustic luxuriousness providing the perfect backdrop for relaxation and reflection.

The soaring chapel steeple punctures the blue Carolina sky, drawing your attention to the glory of God’s natural creation.  But under all this beauty, The Cove is equipped with the latest in video, audio, and internet technology which facilitates teaching and learning.

We learned that the SOE staff and other BGEA staff members pray for each presenter and each participant by name, before and during the School.  The setting, the surroundings, the facilities, and the staff all blend to produce a content-filled, encouraging and inspiring three days.

I was challenged again to give new energy to telling the Old Story.  Our church has done a good job of engaging with our community in several large projects.  But, we also need to bring alongside our social engagement, a renewed commitment to the good news that Jesus brings.  Heaven knows our community needs some good news, and we have it.  We just need to tell it in ways and on occasions so others can hear it and receive it well.  I’ll be sharing more about how we’ll go about that in the next several weeks.  Stay tuned.

Great Day at The Cove

Debbie and I are at The Cove this week.  Today I led “Keys To Thriving in the Smaller Church” during two sessions this afternoon.  I was told that we had the highest attendance of any of the afternoon seminars, which was great!  Lots of small church pastors here this week getting revived and refreshed.  And, lots of them already doing great things in ministry.

Cove051209Tomorrow I’m leading “Outreach Ideas to Help Your Church Change Your Community,” plus a session on using the internet in outreach.  Should be another great day.  Tonight Bishop J. D. Wiley of the Life Center Cathedral of New Orleans preached on “The Name of Jesus.”  It was another powerful message on using the name of Jesus.  I’m exhausted, so I’ll try to post quotes from Bishop Wiley’s sermon tomorrow.

If you ever have the chance to come to The Billy Graham School of Evangelism at The Cove, please do so.  A beautiful setting, wonderful staff, delicious meals, and great speakers (I’m the lone exception this year). More tomorrow.

From The Cove: ‘An Exegetical Escort’

image329I’m at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina for the next three days.  This is the first Billy Graham School of Evangelism for 2009, and I’ll lead “Keys to Thriving in the Smaller Church” tomorrow afternoon.  But tonight we feasted on the preaching of Reverend Dr. Robert Smith, Professor of Christian Preaching at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Alabama.

His text was Acts 8:26-39, the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch.  Here are some particularly delightful quotes:

“The exegetical escort — the preacher — escorts the hearer by the inspired Word of God, into the presence of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the purpose of transformation.”

“The game is not played in the huddle.”

“It took persecution (of the church) to get them to a particular place.”

“To be a Christian then meant more than raising your hands.”

“Christ was not, in terms of Calvary, Plan B.  He was Plan A.”

“God writes the Bible backwards.  Revelation is about what happened, Genesis is about how it happened.”

When Moses and Elijah come to the Mount of Transfiguration, they did so because “they knew they were in heaven on credit.”

“God does not have an inexhaustible vocabulary. Once God has said ‘Jesus,’ He can’t say anything more.”

The Samaritans were of the “canine community — mongrels.”

“If every reference to the Holy Spirit was taken out of the Bible, we would still try to operate the church.  But there are some moves that will not happen in the church just because you write a big check.”

“It’s not what you have, it’s whose hands you put it into.” (referring to the loaves and fish)

“Don’t despise the small things.”

“God is the only one who knows how to multiply by dividing.  And he knows how to promote by demoting.”

“Prepare carefully but preach freely.”

“God is waiting on the church to declare its ignorance.”

“The best theologian I ever sat under was my Mama.  She can’t pronounce the word ‘omnipresent’ to this day, but she just says, ‘God is so big that everywhere He moves, He bumps into Himself.”

Regarding racial reconciliation: “If we can’t sit together (like Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch in the chariot) then we can’t go down into the water together.”

“We are cleansed by the Word and clothed by the righteousness of God.”

“When you start in the Bible, you have to go to Jesus.”

So, you can see we were in for a treat.  The 300 preachers and spouses here were standing, applauding, amen-ing, and shouting by the time Dr. Smith was finished.  You had to be there.  I’m glad I was.  More tomorrow.