BCC Weekend Megaphone Post: CCEF’s Side by Side Conference

September 19, 2015

Ed Welch (CCEF)

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Ed Welch (CCEF)

A Word from Your BCC Team: On weekends, we enjoy using our BCC “megaphone” to make you aware of upcoming BC events. This weekend we interviewed Dr. Ed Welch of CCEF to learn more about the conference.

BCC: “The annual CCEF conference is coming up in October from the 16th to the 18th in Virginia Beach. Tell us about this year’s conference.”

EW: “CCEF’s 2015 ​conference—Side by Side: How God Helps Us Help Each Other—​is ​for ​ordinary ​people ​who both ​need ​help ​and who ​want ​to ​grow ​in ​giving ​help to others. In other words, this conference is for all of us—because needing help and needing to grow in giving help encompasses everyone.

A ​vibrant ​church ​community ​is ​actually dependent ​on ​us ​being ​both ​needy ​and ​needed, so ​we ​want ​to ​grow ​in ​how ​we ​ask ​for ​help ​and ​how ​we ​give ​help. ​This ​conference ​is ​designed ​to ​guide ​us ​in ​those ​skills, ​with ​a ​focus ​on ​how ​these ​work ​in ​everyday ​friendships. ​God ​is ​pleased ​to ​use ​needy ​people ​and ​ordinary ​conversations ​to ​do ​most ​of ​the ​heavy ​lifting ​in ​His ​kingdom.

The basic image of ‘side by side’ comes from the book of Proverbs: we are all walking on a path headed in a direction. When we encounter crossroads, we have to distinguish the wise path from the foolish path. We all need help to choose the wise path. We all need to grow in helping others discern the wise choice. Side by side—rather than face to face—is a beautiful picture in Scripture. It lends itself to, “We are in this together. We are walking with one another. We are friends and we love one another, just as Christ walks with and loves us.”

BCC: “What specific concrete change do you hope will take place in the lives of those who attend the conference?”

EW: “Our aim is for Side by Side to inform the way people will talk to the person sitting next to them, and to inform every conversation they have when they go home. We’ll grow in how we can bring wisdom into everyday conversation, whether people are asking for help or not asking for help. What you’ll learn at the conference will be relevant to all of your conversations and to all of your relationships. For that reason, I find the topic immensely exciting.

We want attendees to leave the conference prepared to ask for help sooner than they would have before. We want them to ask for prayer sooner than they would have before. We want to help them become better able to see the good in somebody who can be difficult and better able to go deeper in their conversations. We want everyone to walk away on a more overt trajectory that heads to Jesus.”

BCC: “What do you see a professional counselor taking away from the conference?”

EW: “All professional Christian counselors must grapple with these questions with every person they meet with:

  • Who is this person and how can I come to accurately know this person?
  • How can I bring the Word of Christ to bear meaningfully on this person’s life?
  • What does the triune God say through Scripture to this person at this particular time?

These are at the core of all professional counseling, and the conference will afford us the opportunity to go back to these basics, remember them, review them, refine them, and grow in them. All of life is growing and knowing these skills better and better. So, again, we see this conference as being useful to any and everyone—no matter what your current occupation, level of education, or ministry experience.”

BCC: “Walking side by side with people is good, of course. But it can also be difficult and exhausting. How will the conference address this reality?”

EW: “Here are two ways, though there will be more.

  • One way that I can become exhausted with people is if I create a venue where the person simply complains about his or her life and circumstances, rather than complaining before the Lord. I circumvent this with one simple question: ‘How can we pray?’ That can take an exhausting conversation and make it exhilarating.
  • Another theme of the conference is learning to see really good things in other people. Good is whenever we see the reflected glory of Jesus in another person. It is a privilege when we see this—and it’s also a skill. And growing in this skill can lighten the burden quite a bit.”

BCC: “What are you most looking forward to at this conference?”

EW: “There is something really fun about big. I go to a small church and I like small churches, but grandeur is very cool: tall mountains, deep oceans, expansive skies—and a large group of people who are like-minded in these kinds of matters. It will be a big family gathering. That is what I am really looking forward to.”

BCC: “Thank you, Ed, for helping our readers to learn more about the conference. To find out even more, you can visit Side by Side. And to learn more about Ed’s book, Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love, visit Crossway here.