June 1, 2016

Ekklesia 2016 Conference Preview

by Eric Davis

342491561_640One of the greater areas of confusion at large today among God’s people is an understanding of the church. Ecclesiological error abounds, perhaps more than any other issue in contemporary Christianity. What is the church, exactly? Why does it exist? What should the church do? Who are, and are not, God’s kind of church leaders? What are they for? How should congregations relate to their leaders? Anyone in church ministry can tell you that they interact with error surrounding these, and related issues, on almost a daily basis. And the consequences are not insignificant.

For this reason, and more, the leadership team at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida created the Ekklesia Conference seven years ago. Ekklesia has as its mission, “to instruct Christians in the inseparable truths of Christ’s church and His gospel. Our desire is that believers would passionately serve and commit to the advancement of those realities with lifelong conviction.” Each year, a theme is chosen which relates to the local church (check out past messages). This year’s conference, entitled, “Sheep and Shepherds,” will bring much-needed clarity to the issue of recognizing spiritual influence. Over the weekend of September 16-18, speakers will answer questions such as, “What is God’s kind of spiritual influence?” “How do I recognize what kind of influence I should be seeking?” “How do we navigate the onslaught of supposed influence out there today?”

Conferences are a great way for God’s people to push pause on the daily grind and saturate their souls in tailored biblical teaching for equipping in a particular area. This year’s Ekkelsia will prove no exception. The speaker line-up consists of a crew of faithful guys involved, and experienced, in the unglamorous throes of local church life.

In addition to the meaty teaching and quality shepherding, I love this conference because of the caring, local church atmosphere. The fleet of volunteers from the GIBC membership treat you as if you were a long-lost family member coming home. From the fellowship, book store, music, food, and sincere love, conference attenders experience the servanthood of a mature church and will leave refreshed.

Church Leadership Pre-conference

This year, Ekklesia has done the church a great favor by adding a pre-conference. The purpose of the pre-conference is to equip current and future church leaders in the inevitable, battles of church leadership conflict. GIBC pastors Jerry Wragg, Matt Waymeyer, and Todd Murray will address head-on some of the most destructive, difficult, and misunderstood issues common in all local churches: how to prevent inter-leader conflict, how to resolve it, and how to guide both leadership teams and the church through an elder/pastor disqualification. Four sessions will be followed by a discussion panel between speakers and conference attenders. Additionally, the pre-conference will open with a fellowship dinner. Thursday evening, pastor Todd Murray (author of Beyond Amazing Grace) will treat attenders with his well-known musical/teaching presentation, Beyond Amazing Grace: A Concert Featuring the Life and Works of John Newton.

At $60 for both the pre-conference and Ekklesia, or $40 for the conference, it is one of the more affordable, and worthy, conferences out there.

I personally recommend the conference to laymen and leadership alike, looking to get equipped in a better understanding of the church, biblical leadership, and the relationship between the two. Last year was my first Ekklesia conference and I can’t wait to return. This year I plan to attend both the pre-conference and main conference with a handful of the current and aspiring leaders in our local church. There are only two conferences which our church leadership team attend each year and this is one of them.

If you cannot make it, the conference will be available for livestream. But, you should clear your schedule, rally your leadership team, take a trip to south Florida, and go get equipped in the glorious dynamics of the Lord’s sheep and shepherds.

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Kermos

    God bless you!

    You pose some very telling questions at the outset of the article. I suspect you are being rhetorical, but the point about confusion about church is none to real.

    We must look at the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Let’s start with shepherds as leaders with authority. “Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” as stated by King Jesus recorded by the Apostle John in Revelation 2:6. “…some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth…” as stated by the One who has the sharp two-edged sword and recorded by John the beloved in Revelation 2:15-16. This begs the question, who are the Nicolaitans? God made this clear in the name assigned to them. The Nicolaitans appear to be a very early sect that established a doctrine that divides people into clergy as leaders and laity as followers, a religious caste system. Nico, combinatory form of niko, “victory, particularly the results of a conquest”, and laos means people, or more specifically, the laity. A more thorough examination of Nicolaitans is here:


    The Shepherd is for God’s sheep. The Shepherd, who said “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me” (John 10:14) is the same Shepherd which said “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Clearly, He said “the” good shepherd and “the” way. He used the definite article, so I proclaim that the Lord Jesus is the exclusive way to eternal life; moreover, I assume that you would, too. Continuing, the Messiah, Who said “the” good shepherd, also said “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:16), and my God and my Savior Jesus Christ left no wriggle room by saying “one shepherd”. I fear it is a dangerous thing to claim to be among other shepherds.


    Are there interim shepherds, between Jesus’ first coming and His second? My Master Jesus addressed this in no uncertain terms: “…do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ…” (Matthew 23:8-10). To avoid any confusion about the definition of rabbi, let’s look at John 1:38:

    And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?”


    The Lord Jesus said “One Shepherd”. “One Good Shepherd”.

    You applaud the conference promoters. They split the people into shepherds and sheep. A set apart pre-conference for pastors, church leaders, and would-be clergy followed by a regular conference that allows the sheep or “laymen”, as you put it at the end of your article, to join the shepherds at the conference. Compare this to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, and weep. I have shed many tears over this.

    You used the English word “local” as in “local church”, but the Greek word for local is topikos which does not occur in the New Testament.


    You seem to flip between the Greek word kuriakon (English word church) and the Greek word ekklesia (English word assembly). The Greek word for kuriakon NEVER occurs in the New Testament where the English word church is used. In fact, kuriakon does not occur in the New Testament, but kuriakEn does which has been translated to “Lord’s”. kuriakEn occurs twice, once in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and once in Revelation 1:10. Not only is “local” absent, but “church” is also absent.


    To the Lord Jesus Christ be all honor, and glory, and dominion, forever and ever!

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