Elephant Room Round 2 This Wednesday

Last year, my close friend and fellow Gospel Coalition member, James MacDonald, invited me to participate in the first ever Elephant Room event. It was a BLAST.

Unlike seemingly every other conference, which is a preacherpalooza of one talking head after another presenting carefully crafted messages, pastors at the Elephant Room were sat down to hash out controversial matters live and unscripted on camera. It was unique, controversial, and fun.

Pastor James is doing it again this Wednesday, January 25. A while back, he called and asked if I’d be game to give it another round and help by being the moderator. So, I gladly signed up. Since then, he’s worked hard to set finalize the participants.

This Year’s Lineup

One of the hallmarks of this event is to bring leaders with significant differences to discuss those differences frankly and unscripted. This year’s participants include: James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, Jack Graham, Crawford Loritts, Wayne Cordeiro, and myself

This Year’s Topics

“Come Together,” Jack Graham and T.D. Jakes, moderated by Mark Driscoll

Two of the largest churches in America, both in Dallas, one of America’s largest cities—one church is almost 100 percent black, the other almost 100 percent white. Is this a problem? What factors, beyond local diversity, are widening this divide? What causes such obvious segregating of the races? In what ways does being a minority worshiper hinder worship and service in the church? What churches are achieving success at breaking down these walls, and how? What do you see the other pastor doing better than your church does it?

“Help,” Wayne Cordeiro and Crawford Loritts, moderated by James MacDonald

What do you do when a staff member fails morally? How bad is bad enough for dismissal? What responsibilities does the church continue to have to the former staff member? What if the failure involves a higher-profile pastor in your area or circle of influence? Is it ever acceptable to name a fallen pastor publicly? Can a fallen pastor re-qualify and be restored? In the same church? How soon is too soon? What safeguards can be established to help those who sincerely desire to remain faithful?

“With a Little Help from My Friends,” Jack Graham and Mark Driscoll, moderated by James MacDonald

Is there a future for denominations? Will networks simply replace them, or will they reinvent themselves? What can denominations offer that networks of churches cannot? Describe the health of world missions and missionaries as you see them serving around the globe. Is the model of sending missionaries through a mission agency still effective? Or is church planting through healthy churches the way to go? Is there a lack of accountability plaguing most missionaries? How can that be changed? How does para-church help or hinder the local church in world missions?

“Ticket to Ride,”Mark Driscoll and T.D. Jakes, moderated by James MacDonald

What are the "majors" of Christian doctrine that cannot be diluted or denied for a person to be a Christian? How can we help one another move beyond the bare minimum of accepted belief, to a pursuit of robust, soul-satisfying, biblical substance? How should we relate to those who do not yet embrace the benefit and priority of sound biblical doctrine? Is there a difference between a person in error and a wolf in sheep’s clothing? What benefits derive from keeping the majors on a separate list and not letting the ‘minors’ divide us? Is it possible to love the truth without compromise and still work passionately for unity?

“Can’t Buy Me Love,” Steven Furtick and Crawford Loritts, moderated by James MacDonald

What elements must accompany a faithful presentation of the gospel? What can a pastor do to ensure that others in his ministry are presenting the gospel in all its fullness? What are some ways you have seen decisions for Christ effectively acknowledged? What responsibilities does the preacher have to lead people in a public response to the gospel? When have we oversimplified or made the gospel formulaic? When have we made the gospel too complicated, and demanded more in our evangelism than the Scriptures do?

“Hard Day’s Night,” Wayne Cordeiro and James MacDonald, moderated by Mark Driscoll

How can a pastor effectively manage the pressures of ministry? What are the warning signs for burnout? What do you see pastors doing today that is most detrimental to their marriage and children? What about pastors who are unmarried? What single action is most healing to your emotional health in ministry—and what action is most damaging? How does the care of your own soul affect the relationships that matter most?

“We Can Work It Out,” Steven Furtick and James MacDonald, moderated by Mark Driscoll

What responsibilities do we have to local pastors who exist outside our theological boundaries, but within the body of Christ? How do you confront a brother in error while showing fidelity to truth, and to the truth about biblical relationship? Given the freedom to preach your conscience, is there anywhere you wouldn’t preach? Does a pastor’s association really communicate endorsement, or is that just a carryover from fundamentalism? How can pastors practically encourage/challenge those who are different than they are? How do the benefits of broader community weigh against the dangers of confusing people about your own convictions?

Where to Watch

The conference will be held live at Harvest Studios in Aurora, Illinois, and will be simulcast at 65 locations around North America, including Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue and Mars Hill Albuquerque.

You can find a location near you and register by clicking here.

Live blogging

While I’m participating in the event, Jake Johnson will be live blogging notes from the conversations here at pastormark.tv.

Jake is a deacon at Mars Hill and heads up our content and social media teams for marshill.com and theresurgence.com and works with the Creative team to help with the branding and messaging for our sermon series, events, and more. He serves as the general editor for pastormark.tv, and helps me with the creation and distribution of my content. From time to time, Jake will be writing on this site to do live blogging, make you aware of upcoming events, and more.