Live From Washington

It's late here in Washington D.C. I am tired. I miss my family. I miss Metro East. Large cities are exhausting. It has been so long since I lived in Houston I have forgotten what it is like. Subways are crowded and filled with a parade of unfamiliar and, at times, familiar smells. Also, subways in a city like Washington are especially interesting at 10:00 pm on Halloween. I was waiting for the CHUD's to crawl forth at any moment (only a few of you will get that obscure reference).

The final session of the Gospel Growth Conference is over. It has been a good time to reflect once again on the centrality of the Gospel in the life of the church.

Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (the conference hosts) gave a very thoughtful address this morning on the nature of evangelism. I have been impressed for some time at the goings on at CHBC. It was, by all accounts, a dead church when Dr. Dever arrived with his young family to be their pastor in the late 90's. It had declined numerically every year prior to that time for over 40 years. There were about 100 people left in the congregation and the median age was, I believe, over 60 years.

Capitol Hill Baptist has been around since the 1850's. It was and is an urban church just six blocks from the U.S. Capitol. It is surrounded by lovely streets and historic brownstones. There was absolutely nothing about CHBC that was "relevant" or "new." There are not many men who would agree to go to such a church. The work in such a place is simply too hard. It is rare that an urban church with a decade's long reputation of decline is brought back from the brink of death. And yet, that is the story of Capitol Hill Baptist Church. It is now a thriving and influential church. It is populated with many young families and students. Interestingly, it is still not very "relevant" in the sense that the church growth gurus define that term. It is simply a church committed to such core distinctives as expository preaching, discipling relationships, evangelism, and meaningful membership. Indeed, I love their reckless disregard for the rules of church growth.

Thanks to Mark Dever and the folks at Capitol Hill for an enjoyable time. Thanks most of all for your continued example of faithfulness.

Thanks also the people of Metro East Baptist Church who make it possible for the pastoral staff to escape to events such as these for refreshment and challenge.


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