We’re pleased to announce registration for our 2018 Shepherds Conference is now live (please click here). The conference will be held here in Bloomington at Clearnote Church Wednesday evening through Friday morning, February 21-23, 2018.

The younger pastors I work with want me to say that we have a passion for tackling issues that make everyone comfie. Remember the topics we’ve addressed the last couple of years? Death. Sexual abuse. Homosexuality. So we figured why part from tradition? This year we’re going to focus on conflict.


It’s necessary, that’s why. Every seminary’s hidden curriculum is one endless warning to the men being trained for ministry that “if you ever have conflict in your church, you have failed.”

Then, with your M.Div. union card in hand, you hit your first pastorate—or rather it hits you—and you realize the life of the minister is a life of mediating (and if you have the faith to do so, causing) conflict. It was so for Moses and his elders and it remains so for pastors and elders today. In time, if you survive your initial disillusionment and don’t grow bitter over the sheep’s sin (not to mention your own), you come to learn that the surest way of causing conflict is to avoid it, while the surest way of establishing and protecting the peace and unity of the flock is engaging in it. Conflict, that is.

So this conference will focus on conflict. We’ll talk about how good and necessary conflict is for the peace and unity of the church. We’ll get down in the trenches and talk about strategies for resolving conflict in ourselves, our families, our congregation; and maybe hardest of all, in our elders board.

Please plan to join us. This is a conference for everyone who wants to build up the body of Christ—especially those serving as officers or aspiring to that calling.

This year I’ll be speaking alongside two dear brothers. First, my dear friend and most trusted fellow pastor—Max Curell, who has walked with me through many a conflict. Second, a brother who has become the friend of all of us here at Clearnote—Toby Sumpter who serves as senior pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho.

We’ll spend most of three days singing and fellowshipping with brothers who share the same commitments to fighting the good fight and suffering as soldiers of Christ. Don’t miss it.

If you’re able to stay through the weekend, we would love to have you and your wife stay with us for worship on Sunday morning following the conference. Click here to register now.

Here’s a description of each session:

Session 1: The Lord of Hosts: The virtue of conflict — Toby Sumpter

The world is at war. It’s been that way since the Fall of Man, and it will be that way until the end of time. Our God calls Himself the Lord of Hosts, which is to say the God of armies. The story of the world is the story of the victory of Jesus Christ over Sin and Death and Satan. Yet, as Evangelicals we have it in our head that conflict is bad. That if we ever have to fight anybody at all about anything, we’ve somehow failed. Scripture tells a much different story. What does the Bible teach us about the nature and purpose of conflict?

Session 2: Keep a Close Watch: Conflict with yourself — Toby Sumpter

Our first conflict is with ourselves—against our own inner wickedness, selfishness, laziness, and every other evil thing that keeps us from loving and serving God as we ought. You won’t have the courage or ability to engage in any sort of battle until you first go to battle against yourself. If we can’t fight ourselves—really fight—we will never be able to engage in fruitful conflict with anyone inside or outside the church. So . . . where to begin?

Session 3: Shepherding the Flock: Conflict among the sheep — Max Curell

There’s a reason the Bible says a lot about conflict in the church—about quarrels and divisions and biting and devouring. Being full of sinners, churches are messy places. Like a hen house or sheepfold, where there are sinners, there is conflict and strife. It’s the job of every pastor to work through conflict among the sheep. To preserve peace and unity without sacrificing the true righteousness to which God calls his people.

Session 4: When They Have a Dispute: The elders and conflict — Tim Bayly

The office of elder was instituted to mediate conflict among the people of God. But often, as elders mediate conflict, conflict arises among the elders as well. It is the pastor’s job to lead his elders through the divisions that come from shepherding the flock. This is among the most painful and challenging tasks a pastor faces.

Session 5: Pursue Peace: When to fight (and when not to) — Tim Bayly

It’s one thing to know we should fight. It’s another thing to actually do it. Which fights are worth having? Which fights are necessary? Which hills are worth dying on? But then, also, when should “love cover a multitude of sins”? What things should a pastor just . . . let slide? The ability to discern when and when not to fight is one of the most critical decisions a pastor makes. By faith.

Thankful for this content? Let others know: