Reflections on SBC Pastors’ Conference, Monday, June 13, 2016
It’s 10:53, and my wife and I just got back to our hotel room after a full day at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference here in St. Louis, MO. For those who are not familiar with the SBC, the Pastors’ Conference is an annual one-and-a-half-day event that immediately precedes the two-day annual convention for Southern Baptists. I heard many sermons, went to breakout sessions, panel discussions, and all the things you typically do at conferences like these. After all of it, here are a few of my reflections as a pastor of a Southern Baptist church.
First, I was impressed by what seemed to be a good representation of age groups among the attendees this year. Over the past several years, one of the concerns among SBCers has been whether younger generations of pastors will find a home in the SBC. It seems to me that increasingly the answer is “yes.” I’m encouraged by this trend.
Second, I was reminded of the importance of expository preaching. Today I heard some really faithful expository sermons—sermons where a text of Scripture was preached in such a way that the point of the text was the point of the sermon, and where there was constant interaction with the text throughout the sermon.
But, to be honest, I also heard a few sermons today that weren’t expository—sermons where the point of the sermon wasn’t the point of the text, and where there was not constant interaction with the text throughout the sermon. As the primary preaching pastor at my church, I don’t usually get to sit and listen to live preaching. From the perspective of one sitting and listening rather than standing and speaking, what I noticed was that during the expository sermons I could literally feel my soul being fed, and during the not-so-expository sermons I could literally feel my soul longing for something more. I left these sermons with the thought that if I as a pastor need to hear expository sermons, then my people need to hear them as well.
Third, what I’m most thankful for today is the variety of ways I’ve been encouraged toward evangelism. The theme passage for the Pastor’s Conference this year was 2 Timothy 4:5, which says, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” I heard sermons, panel discussions, and interviews today from leaders who are doing the work of evangelism faithfully. Their examples, appeals from Scripture, and practical advice has helped to renew my passion for making disciples. I’m so thankful to be able to cooperate with a group of churches and church leaders who take evangelism seriously. I’m thankful to be a part of a denomination that believes in the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the responsibility of making it known to the entire world. I think it’s fair to say that the Great Commission is the rally cry of Southern Baptists. Surely there isn’t a better one.