I’ve been attending the SBC Pastor’s Conference and Annual Meeting since 1999. Every year I’ve been encouraged and strengthened by the messages. I’m looking forward to Dallas and what looks to be a great lineup of preachers. As I anticipate another great pastor’s conference, I thought I’d share some of the highlights for me from past years.
(Note: Interpret the title as the most memorable sermons to Todd. In the comments, I’d love to hear what sermons have been memorable to you.)
These are a few sermons that have made a lasting impact:
James McDonald, June 12 2016, “Endurance” – 2 Tim 4:5
In this sermon, McDonald spoke from his own experience and the message was incredibly helpful to me at the time. I guess sometimes sermons aren’t memorable for their homiletical excellence as much as their timeliness for the one remembering. That was the case for me at the time, facing a difficult situation and feeling called by God to endure. The message hit home. At the end, McDonald asked pastors to stand who needed prayer – I stood and was surrounded by others who prayed for me.
Rick Warren, June 9, 2014 – “Suffering” – 2 Cor 1:3-11
One year after his son took his own life, Rick Warren stood before fellow pastors to share a message about suffering. As much a personal testimony as a sermon, Warren shared from his own deep emotional pain and offered both comfort and hope to those suffering. While his advice was helpful, it was his own story that was most powerful. At the end he gave an altar call for those pastors who were suffering to come to the front as he prayed over them. This one was memorable again for its timeliness and for its heart. “There is no testimony without a test. There is no message without a mess.” “Your greatest ministry will come out of your deepest hurt.”
David Platt, June 22, 2009 – “Outside the Camp” – Heb 13:11-14
From the very beginning of this sermon where Platt passionately quotes Psalms 148, 149, and 150 from memory, and all through this sermon, we see Platt’s heart and passion for missions. For many Southern Baptists, this was their first introduction to David Platt (a year before Radical was published). I myself had never heard anyone who spoke with more passion for God to be glorified through missions. His call for us to “risk it all” for the sake of taking the gospel to all peoples was convicting and challenging. The question he set before us was whether we will retreat from the mission, or risk it all for God’s glory among the nations. “Will we die in our religion or will we die in our devotion?” – If you need a renewed heart for God’s mission, listen to this sermon.
Ed Stetzer, June 11, 2013 – “Salt and Light” – Matt 5:13-16
At the time, Stetzer was heading up Lifeway Research. In this message, Stetzer preached powerfully in response to shifting culture around us and the decline in baptisms and membership in the SBC. Stetzer is straight up honest about what the data shows – a 50-year trend of decline that is “not a matter of debate, but a matter of math.” Unpacking a familiar passage of Scripture, he both encourages and challenges us to be gospel people where he has placed us. “Now is the time to live as salt and light in a broken world.”
Fred Luter, June 18 2012 – On the eve of his election as SBC President
On the eve of his historic election as the first African American president of the SBC, Dr. Luter delivered the closing message of the Pastor’s Conference. Honestly, I don’t remember the text or title of the sermon, but I do remember the message. The sermon was marked by his typical enthusiastic delivery and cadence, unique among preachers, to an upbeat crowd. Preaching in his home city of New Orleans, Luter shared testimony of what God had done there. He challenged us to share the gospel. His passion for gospel ministry was contagious and there was a general excitement anticipating his pending election. The next day, Luter was elected by acclamation and standing ovation of the Convention.
There’s no video of the sermon available online, but may be purchased from SBC Tapes. In Lieu of sermon video, Here is an audio of a Baptist Press interview with Dr. Luter following the election.
Click Here to find video of Luter’s election (Tuesday Afternoon session)
Johnny Hunt, June 14, 1999 – “What you need to remember when you need to remember”–Phil 1:1-6
The Atlanta Convention in 1999 was my first time attending the Pastors Conference and my first time hearing Johnny Hunt. The sermon was an exposition of the beginning verses of Philippians and spoke of the past, present and future faithfulness of God in ministry. In the middle of the sermon, Dr. Hunt used his “sanctified imagination” to describe Paul sitting in a Roman prison singing Amazing Grace and witnessing to the jailer. When he get to the final verse, shouting “When we’ve been there 10,000 years…” the entire audience was on their feet cheering – it was enough for me to make my very first purchase from SBC Tapes.
Click here for an edited manuscript (missing the aforementioned illustration): Or you can see if you can still order the message from SBC Tapes. Mine’s about worn out.
Shane Hall, June 12, 2017 – “Christ is Enough!”– Phil 4:10-23
I’ve already described this sermon in an earlier post. This sermon is one I will never forget. Little did he know as he was preparing this message that the cancer once in remission would return. Facing a terminal disease and uncertain prognosis, Hall would share not only his testimony of faith in the midst of suffering, but his proclamation of the truth that “Christ is Enough!” Far and away the best sermon I’ve ever heard on Phil 4:13 and one of the most memorable and most powerful sermons I’ve ever heard at any Pastor’s Conference. If you’ve not yet listened to this message – do it today!
Note: Shane went home to be with the Lord last week and his memorial service took place in Oklahoma on the date this blog was posted. The bulk of the sermon was played at the service so that Shane “preached his own funeral.” Please continue to pray for his family.
These are a few of the sermons that have stuck with me. Several of them I have listened to over and over again. Of course, this post is just one man’s experience — the most memorable sermons for me. I’d like to hear from you.
What are your most significant memories of past SBC Pastor’s Conferences? What sermons have stuck with you and had a lasting impression on you?