NOTE: The Nomination process is up and running. You can make nominations here.
It’s been almost 3 months since our little band of bloggers were entrusted with this gargantuan task of putting together the 2017 Pastors Conference in Phoenix. I wish I could share all that has happened – it’s been amazing how things have come together. Now the time has come to begin our biggest and most important job – selecting the preachers who will deliver the 12 sermons.
We ran on a simple premise and everything we are doing is based on this same foundational idea:
The word of God is so powerful that if twelve men faithfully proclaim Scripture the SBC Pastor’s Conference will be a great blessing to all who attend.
So, even if the preachers are not famous, even if you don’t know their names, the exaltation of the “name above every name” from the perfect and powerful word is sufficient. Our job is to find 12 men who will proclaim Christ. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of qualified men who could do a great job. We need to find a dozen.
So, we are beginning our nationwide “Preacher Search” and we need your help. We are asking you to nominate men who meet the qualifications we have set and fit the profile we have designed. You are our “scouts” out there who will recommend to our team the men who should be on stage to preach in Phoenix.
Nominations will open next Monday morning, September 12. There will be a nomination form that you will fill out to complete the process. We do not know how many nominations we will receive, but we believe there will be a large number. We are asking for your help in the process. If you are going to nominate someone, you are going to have to do some of the background research and give us enough information to make an initial decision. We will need to listen to sermons – if the person you nominate doesn’t post them online you must get some for us. If we are going to give serious consideration to a nominee, you need to give us some serious information about that nominee. Nominations will remain open until the end of September. It is permissible to nominate yourself. If you nominate someone else, please make sure that person is willing to do it.
I have received dozens of emails, letters, and other communications recommending people for the Pastors Conference. Please understand that even if you gave me such a communication, you still need to go through the formal nomination process and give us all the information we need to make a decision.
Our Preaching Plan
After a lot of debate and discussion, we have decided that we will preach through the Book of Philippians during the Pastors Conference. It will be divided into 12 segments and each of the 12 preachers will be assigned a passage. During the conference, our speakers will work straight through the book, passage by passage – twelve sermons, four chapters, four sessions. Each preacher will be expected to deliver a biblical, practical, text-based message. We spent a lot of time debating this, but in the end, I chose Philippians for a variety of reasons.
It is a book about Jesus – for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. It exalts Christ and the “name above every name.” In fact, “Above Every Name” is our theme for the conference. It is a book about joy, something we all need in these difficult times. It is a book about living and ministering in hostile times – Paul wrote the letter to explain his imprisonment to the church at Philippi. We live in an increasingly hostile world. There are so many powerful, practical, challenging passages.
Our Preacher Profile
This is going to be a massive undertaking for us, so we are putting some of the burden on you. If you think there is a guy out there who could and should be on the stage preaching a portion of Philippians, let us know. Get us the information that will help us sort through the names. We are going to be looking for a very specific profile of us sort through the names.preacher. There may be wonderful, godly, powerful preachers who do not fit our profile for this conference. It is no aspersion on them or their preaching, but for the 2017 PC, we are looking for something precise.
We are looking for Southern Baptist preachers. Most of us on the team are actually okay with PC speakers who aren’t from the SBC, but this year we are limiting the pool of applicants to only those who are from Southern Baptist churches.
We are looking for pastors of average Southern Baptist churches. We’ve set an arbitrary guideline of about 500 or less in average attendance, and we’d love to have many speakers from churches much smaller than this. We may stray a little higher if we decide to – these are guidelines, not rules. But we are coming from the belief that there are a lot of very good preachers out there, worth listening to, in average SBC churches.
We are looking for active, CP-supportive Southern Baptists. There are a lot of churches that have very loose ties to the SBC, churches that are affiliated but it would take a team of FBI investigators to discover that on their website. No one in the church knows they are SBC. For our purposes this year, we want active SBCers who engage in SBC life, support the CP, Lottie Moon, or in some other way demonstrate that they are an actively engaged in our denomination. We do not have a specific CP percentage that serves as a qualifier or disqualifier, but what a church gives to missions through the CP is a definite factor in our decision.
We are looking for text-driven, Bible expositors. We are looking for expository, not topical preachers. We mean no insult to those who preach topically, but for our purposes we need expositors. On the nomination form, you are being asked to note the preacher’s last 3 sermon series. If those are “How to build a Happy Marriage,” “Making the Church Grow,” and “Breaking Bad Habits,” that preacher may be a GREAT preacher but he is not OUR preacher. Again, no insult, but we are looking for text-driven expositors who preach through books and passages.
We are looking for passionate preachers, not professorial lecturers. Some think that being text-driven means delving deeply into textual variants and arcane issues of Greek grammar. An expositional sermon is not an academic lecture. Good exposition is powerful and passionate – it picks up the Sword of the Spirit and cuts deeply into the listener’s heart. We want preachers who mine the text for the truth of God then powerfully apply it to the lives of God’s people. Every pastor who attends should be challenged, convicted, encouraged, strengthened and emboldened from the word of God.
We are looking for diversity. This is always tricky. Someone will say, “Why not just look for the best preachers?” Experience teaches us in the SBC that when we are not intentional about ethnic inclusion we tend to default to whiteness. I would love for half of the preachers at this conference to Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, or some other kind of ethnic minority. That is not a quota, but it is a personal goal. We are making ethnic diversity a priority. We will not lower the standards for ethnic diversity, but we are convinced we won’t have to!
We are not interested in Calvinism warriors (from any side). Whether he is devoted to promoting Calvinism or opposing it, if he is an active combatant in the Calvinism wars he will not be chosen to speak here. It is not my intent to try to balance the conference in this arena because I hope no one will be asked a single question about their soteriological position. If they are faithful adherents to the BF&M, that is enough.
We are looking for team players. We plan to make this a team event. While each man will prepare and deliver his own sermon, we plan to hold a colloquium in the winter in which all the speakers will gather at one of our seminaries to study and work together. During the Pastor’s Conference itself, we want all of the speakers to arrive on Saturday and stay through Monday, to view themselves as a team, to encourage one another, to work from a common understanding and theme statement. Again, no one is going to tell you what to preach, but we want to be a team, not just 12 individuals.
NOTE: a couple of questions have prompted this edit. The expenses of the speakers to the colloquium and to the Pastors’ Conference will be handled – travel, meals, and hotel.
We are asking for the wisdom of God to lead us to 12 wise, Spirit-filled, word-immersed men who will preach powerfully through Philippians in Phoenix.
How Is It Going to Go?
This is going to be an interesting process. Will we have 48 nominations? 480? 4800? We don’t know.
- We will open nominations next Monday. The form will be fairly simple. We will have to have some online sermons to listen to.
- Our band of blogging brothers will review the nominations, cull them, then meet to make final selections.
- We hope to have our selections made by the end of October (which might be optimistic) and issue invitations to the 12.
We ask your prayers. This is both going to be the toughest and most important part of our work. Please seek God’s wisdom for us in this. We need to get 12 men who can remind us just how powerful the word of God is!