February 28, 2012 by C.J. Mahaney
This coming Memorial Day weekend Sovereign Grace Ministries is going to host the final Next conference (formerly New Attitude). Over the last decade or so Joshua Harris, Eric Simmons, and Grant Layman have all taken turns planning this event—and each has done an exceptional job. This year I have the privilege of leading Next along with my friend Bob Kauflin. We are two old guys who used to lead Celebration conferences together, so it’s a pure joy that we get to reunite for the purpose of serving the next generation. This year’s theme is the role of the church, and what it means for each member to play his or her part in the church. This is a most appropriate theme for our last Next conference and I’m very grateful for the lineup of teachers who have agreed to come address us on this topic.
Below are the speakers and the topics I’ve asked each one to cover. Later on I hope to talk more here about why I invited these men to cover these subjects.
"The Church and Friendship"
"The Church and Holiness"
Kevin DeYoung pastors University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and is the co-author of What is the Mission of the Church?
"The Church and the Purpose of God"
Jeff Purswell is the dean of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College and the editor of Bible Doctrine.
Matt Chandler is a lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, and is the author of The Explicit Gospel.
Ian McConnell leads Grace Bible Church in northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jared Mellinger is the senior pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
"The Church and Disappointment"
C.J. Mahaney leads Sovereign Grace Ministries in their mission to establish and support local churches.
These are some of my favorite teachers and their speaking alone would be more than enough to make me eagerly anticipate this conference. But there is another reason that getting to see this conference come together is a unique joy to me. When we began Covenant Life Church and then Sovereign Grace Ministries three decades ago, it was because we wanted to build something we could pass on to the next generation. A love for the local church and desire to see it grow was where it all began for me in pastoral ministry. As we proceeded to labor in the church, I was sowing toward a future I wasn’t sure I would see. But lo and behold, after all these years I am still alive, and through this conference I get to see something come to fruition in my late 50s that I began praying for in my early 20s: that we could pass on a love for the local church to the next generation. I’m grateful to God for this expression of his kindness to me.
Speaking of the local church many years ago, John Stott said, “How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the centre.” At Next, we hope to put the church at the center of our lives, where it belongs. I hope you’ll join us.