California’s Best Kept Secret | William Costello | faith and values

Since 2006, I have been attending an annual conference of pastors called the Shepherds’ Conference. It is hosted by a staff of over 800 volunteers at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. I heard it was called Disneyland for pastors. I protest. It’s even better ! It’s California’s best kept secret. Fabulous fellowship, the best preaching, and the best books are just a few of the reasons our church staff return year after year.

I could give forty-four reasons why I recommend this conference, but I will content myself with the first four.

Great encouragement. Shepherds Conference reminds me (in large part) that I am not alone. In ministry, it is easy to feel isolated. The conference brings together over three thousand pastors/elders from around the world. The fellowship we share forces us to see that we are to serve the Lord in fellowship with other believers. We are to “excite one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:25).

Great Sermon. The Shepherds’ Conference (SC) allows my soul to be filled with great preaching. In ministry, the pastor does most of the preaching. At SC, we need to hear from pastors (young and old), gorging on souls in a veritable feast of passionate yet precise exposition. The preaching we hear is a powerful reminder of how the soul can be transformed by the Word of God (Ps 19:7).

great care. Pastors and elders are in an almost constant mode of service. The Shepherds’ Conference is unique because of the way God’s love is shown to those who attend. Volunteers are not hired by an outside company. They are members of Grace Community Church who volunteered their time to serve the pastors. Some of them use their vacation time to help with the conference. It is not out of obligation, but out of a sincere desire to show God’s love to

Pastors around the world.

You might see a tired pastor receiving an urgent prayer from a barista at the cafe. You might see a district court judge shine a pastor’s shoes while asking about his church. You might be impressed by the smiles on the faces of pastors as they go to the Shepherd Shoppe and spend the free gift card given to them on specially selected gifts for pastors.

Great books. In the ministry, one reads constantly. Our books are our tools; our briefcase our toolbox. At SC, every registered companion receives 15-20 free books, and book sellers are on hand to provide you with even more books at discounted prices. There is a huge tent set up in the parking lot and it seems that all the English language Christian book publishers are there with classic and modern books.

Pastor, if you really want to grow in your faith and better serve your church, Shepherds Conference is for you. Scholarships are available if the cost is prohibitive. It’s quite simply one of California’s best kept secrets! As I tell my own father, “You have never seen how a beacon of love a church can become until you experience the grace-filled people at Grace Community Church. But don’t take my word for it. Come see for yourself.

Dr. William Costello is the Senior Pastor of Grace Bible Church Visalia.

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