After viewing the live stream for approximately 10 minutes, the conference took a 15 minute break. At that time, the following message was broadcast on the live stream:
I did not realize that the Elephant Room "conversation" was being streamed live online for free. I still think that admission price is ridiculous, but if you'd like to watch online, click here.
Today, in the suburbs of Chicago, the Elephant Room conference will finally take place and everyone will, I guess, talk about "the elephant in the middle of the room." What is this elephant? I still really have no idea, but let's look at this conference a little more closely.
The first thing that has me slightly irked is the price for this conference. As you can see from the screenshot below, taken directly from the conference website, even if you are only attending a simulcast of the event, you still must pay upwards $129! I understand that conferences cost money to put on, but these prices are absolutely ridiculous.
But this conference really gets interesting when we look at the lineup of speakers. You see, I connected to this website via the site of Harvest Bible Chapel (and just a note, it seems that registration to attend at Harvest is cheaper if you go through the church website). Harvest Bible Chapel is the church of James MacDonald, who is a favorite of many conservative Christians. MacDonald is actually hosting this little conversation at his church, and the following "pastors" will be present:
Most of you know I'm not a fan of James MacDonald, but I was still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one...at first, anyway. I was inclined to hope that maybe MacDonald was going to take this opportunity to push false teachers Furtick and Noble into a corner, that maybe this would be an ideal time to confront these men for their seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven drivel. But then I remembered MacDonald's close friendship with Greg Laurie, who, though he tends to preach and teach conservatively, has seemingly in the past promoted the work of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. And I recalled MacDonald's team-up with foul-mouthed Mark Driscoll during the crisis in Haiti and, most recently, following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, though these endeavors are not bad things in and of themselves. It is the alliance that worries me. Driscoll has been invited to Harvest Bible Chapel to host a "Love Life" seminar, and we all know how much Mark Driscoll likes to talk about sex. In fact, it looks as though Driscoll has built this particular seminar off of his smutty Song of Solomon sermon series. And yet James MacDonald is welcoming it into his huge multi-campus kingdom.
So after these reminders and realizations, I lost much of my hope that anything constructive or good might come out of these Elephant Room conversations. Then I awoke one morning to hear James MacDonald advertising this event on the radio. I do not have a transcript of the commercial, so you'll have to trust my paraphrase. In essence, MacDonald said something to the effect of, "We shouldn't judge a pastor just because they don't preach or teach like we do or like we think they should. I've invited some of my pastor friends--men who love God and who teach the Gospel--to come and have a conversation..."
As I said, the above is not an exact quote, it is my paraphrase of the commercial. What I took away from it, though, was that James MacDonald believes all of these men to be orthodox, evangelical, Bible-teaching men who do not compromise on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think many of us would agree though, that at the very least, Perry Noble and Steven Furtick have both allowed themselves to fall into the Purpose-Driven pit of a me-centered gospel, and it is that same weak, watered-down gospel that they deliver to their church week after week. But let's see what the website has to say about this event:
Okay, so they are asking attendees to pay over $100 per ticket and the speakers won't even have spent time preparing their messages? And I'm sorry, but it's more than a "differing approach to ministry" that has some of us warning about some of these pastors. It's their willingness to compromise the Gospel in order to draw crowds. It's their focus on the "unchurched" and their failure to share the full truth of the Gospel with that unchurched crowd. I admit, I still have some hopes for this conference. I would love to see Matt Chandler stand up and deliver a one-two punch to the "Purpose Driven Popes of the Carolinas." I pray that God's Word is proclaimed fully and without compromise. Of course, unless I'm willing to pay the outlandish registration fee, I guess I'll never know...The Elephant Room will feature blunt conversations between seven influential pastors who share a common love for the Gospel but take differing approaches to ministry. No keynotes. No canned messages. These are "the conversations you never thought you'd hear."