When Grace Church put on the first Resolved Conference in 2005, I was a youth pastor in Albuquerque. I gathered up my seniors and the college students that were attached to the Bible study, and anyone else who would come, and we piled in a rental van or two for the 900-mile trek to Orange County. It was a pilgrimage of sorts, and one that changed the course of my life.
In the shadow of Disney Land, I still remember CJ Mahaney’s refrain: “Why Gethsemane?” It was one-part question, one-part rhetorical, and 98 parts introspection. It was a sermon that would define Resolved as a conference, and it became an Ebenezer in my own spiritual life.
At that conference, Pastor MacArthur preached on the conscience, and talked about dealing with an elder at the church who had fallen into disqualifying sin. Rick Holland preached on how taking communion an unworthy way just might kill you, because of how much God cherishes the death of his son. And Steve Lawson’s preaching catapulted my historical hero—Jonathan Edwards—from colonial America right into the room with us.
Well, not a permanent part. This year is the last of the Resolved conferences. A lot has changed in the eight years since Orange County. Resolved moved to Long Beach, Pasadena, and then finally to Palm Springs. I have since become the College pastor at Grace, and Rick Holland and Jon Rourke have both become pastors at other churches.
The leadership of Resolved has chosen “the local church” to be the theme of this last Resolved. Why should students be part of a church? How should they love their churches? How do they relate to the Lord of the church? What is the biblical mandate for church membership? We will be covering all those themes, and because we desire to apply those themes in our own life, this will be the final Resolved.
It is a perfect ending. Going back eight years ago, to the first Resolved, CJ preached on just this topic. He made an appeal for the attendees to see the difference between a conference and the local church. Conference speakers don’t visit you in the hospital when you have cancer, CJ said.
Over the years, Resolved has come a long way. When it started, few college students knew who Jonathan Edwards was, and even fewer would be passionate about his theology. Now, passionate reformed thinking is pervasive among college aged Christians. This is a trend that has many Influences, but Colin Hansen (in Young, Restless, and Reformed) partially gives credit to the Resolved Conference. In that sense, it has succeeded in being a tool for churches to use in training and equipping their college students. And now, it is helpful to remember CJ’s words from 8 years ago. We are to use conferences, but we are to love the church.
I shared my favorite Resolved memory above. If you have one, share it in the comment thread below. And I’ll see you next weekend for one last time in Palm Springs (to register, go here).