If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know about our work on the SBC Pastors’ Conference and the vision that Dave cast for a different focus this year. If you missed it, the entire session is available online at http://live.sbc.net/ondemand.html. I was privileged to serve with the Pastors’ Conference this year and was blessed by the experience. The event itself exceeded our expectations and was a true joy to be a part of the leadership team. I am still in the after-glow after a full year of working on the project. As I reflect on the past year and the event last week, here are the first of seven things I will take away from the experience and I hope that others will as well.
7. A passion for text-driven expository preaching. The original impetus for our experiment was a desire to champion verse-by-verse preaching through the word of God. As we made our way through the book of Philippians, each sermon built upon the last and the unity of Scripture was on display. I hope that pastors who have not preached through a book before or who have not preached text-driven sermons in the past will see the benefits of such a practice and develop a passion for this kind of preaching. I am thankful for our seminaries that are teaching this as the preferred method of delivering the word of God to our people. I hope this conference helps others see the value of this approach and adopt it in their own.
6. Thanksgiving for the churches that make up the SBC. One of the stated goals for the pastors’ conference this year was to make “a positive statement about the value of average sized churches in the SBC and the diverse landscape that makes up our Convention.” Twelve preachers from average-sized congregations delivered the word faithfully. Four of our prominent mega-church pastors shared the “common ground” they shared with smaller membership churches. One of the things I will take away from this conference is a renewed thankfulness for the churches and pastors that make up the SBC. I hope that those who attended the conference or watched online were encouraged about the ministry and impact of all of our churches and the common ground we have with one another as we participate together in the work of the kingdom. If you missed the conference (or part of it), I encourage you to watch it online. I know you will be blessed!
5. Introduction to partner ministries. One of the joys of working on the PC team was our partnership with key ministries. Working with Dr. Mark Tolbert and his team was a real joy and our partnership with the Caskey center at New Orleans Seminary was a great fit. I knew nothing about the center before Ed Stetzer introduced us. I hope that Southern Baptists learn more about this ministry focused on strengthening smaller membership churches and their pastors. I look forward to seeing this ministry expand as it serves the churches of our Convention.
Because the Lord blessed us financially, we were able to partner with Guidestone to promote Mission:Dignity and receive offerings in all four sessions for this ministry. Working with John Ambra at Guidestone, I learned more about this ministry and some of the personal stories of those it has helped. I hope that the conference has raised awareness of all that Mission:Dignity does to assist retired ministers and their spouses who have served faithfully. I pray that more pastors and churches will give to MD, participate in Mission:Dignity Sunday and join us in giving to this ministry.
The conference also introduced me to the scope of ministry of Getty Music. From their initial offer to help with the Pastor’s Conference, to working with Keith and the team in planning, to their humble leading of worship during the conference, the Gettys passion to serve churches was on display. I hope pastors and churches will get to know the Gettys and their music. For those already familiar with Getty Music, I hope they will see them not just as performance artists or composers of some of their favorite new hymns, but as a ministry that serves churches. I hope that many will take advantage of the resources they have put together to help lead their congregations to Sing! and worship together.
Being a part of the Pastors’ Conference was a true joy. I am thankful for Dave’s leadership and for including me on his team. I thank the Lord for the many ways he has blessed us this year! These are just a few of my initial take-aways. I’ll have a few more to share in my next post.