Last week a room full of pastors and leaders got together here in Omaha for the first TGC-Omaha meeting. It was a time filled with encouragement, equipping, and excitement over what God is doing in our area. It has been a long time coming.
Several years ago I drove up to Chicago with some fellow pastors to attend the first Gospel Coalition conference. It was 2007 and the conference was in the chapel at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I don’t know if there were even 500 people there. I was richly encouraged as I met brothers from different regions and denominations. I became hopeful about what God might be doing in our day to, as DA Carson would say, bring the gospel from the periphery to the center.
But at that time, I was thinking personally and globally, or about me individually and the church universally–until I ran into Darrin Patrick. I literally bumped into him. He is a big guy so he didn’t budge much but it was enough of a thud that an explanation was necessary. I apologized and we introduced each other. In the midst of the brief talk he said, “Since you are in Omaha you are probably friends with Bob Thune then, right?” I answered him back, “No, actually. I’ve heard Bob’s name before, but no, I don’t know him.” Patrick then smiled and said, “Well, when you get back to Omaha you need to reach out to him.”
Patrick helped me to see that what I appreciated so much about the TGC vision, conference and feel could actually be in Omaha. As a young, eager pastor, this conversation made me hopeful.
When I got back to Omaha I emailed Bob and told him that Darrin Patrick said that he needed to take me out for lunch. From that meeting in 2007 we resolved to encourage each other in the ministry and prayerfully pursue gospel advancement in our area. At that time Bob was in the early stages of a church plant and since then I have worked to plant a church. We have seen other churches planted in our area and worked together to encourage pastors who desire to plant or revitalize churches in Nebraska and Iowa. We even began a network for pastors to gather for equipping, prayer, and encouragement. These quarterly meetings have now turned into the Omaha chapter of The Gospel Coalition. I praise God for it!
The takeaway from 2007 was that I not only have the opportunity but the privilege and perhaps even the responsibility to work with other pastors for the spread of the gospel. There are a lot of ways to do this, but I am thankful for where we are now and what is happening. If you are a pastor in Nebraska or western Iowa, we would love to have you join us.
Perhaps you would be willing to join me in praising God for what he has already done here and pray also for us and our area that God would bless these labors with gospel growth.