Archives For Pastors’ Conference

Check up Pastors ConferenceThe 2017 IBSA Pastors’ Conference will kick off Nov. 7 at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Decatur with a focus on the spiritual health of leaders, their families, and their churches. The conference, held prior to the IBSA Annual Meeting, is based on the qualities the Apostle Paul set out for church leadership in Titus 1:5-9.

The theme for the conference, “Time for a Check-Up,” is something pastors are familiar with when it comes to their congregations, said Brian Smith, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Granite City and president of this year’s Pastors’ Conference. Pastors provide spiritual check-ups for their people every week through preaching and teaching, but who’s doing the same for the pastor?

“That is what this conference is for, to provide pastors and staff with a spiritual health check-up and scriptural prescriptions for better spiritual health for them and ultimately their families and churches,” Smith said.

Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines is among the preachers who will fill the pulpit at Tabernacle Nov. 7-8. Joining him are Ed Stetzer, who holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism; Curtis Gilbert, lead pastor of the Belleville campus of The Journey; and Joe Valenti, associate pastor of youth and missions at Cuyahoga Valley Church in Broadview Heights, Ohio.

The Pastors’ Conference also will include breakout sessions led by the speakers and other Illinois leaders:

  • Valenti will lead a session on healthy churches reaching UPG’s (unreached people groups), and also a breakout on healthy youth ministry.
  • Gilbert will lead pastors in developing healthy church elders and building a healthy multi-site ministry.
  • Rayden Hollis, pastor of Red Hill Church in Edwardsville, will lead a session on healing from an unhealthy ministry, and also will facilitate a church planting round table discussion.
  • A trio of IBSA staff members will also lead breakout sessions, which will be offered at both breakout times on Tuesday. Pat Pajak, associate executive director of evangelism, will encourage pastors with ways to make their churches more evangelistic; Mark Emerson, associate executive director of the Church Resources Team, will speak on healthy small groups and Sunday school; and Steve Hamrick, director of worship ministries, will lead a session on developing and leading healthy worship teams.
  • On Wednesday morning at 8:30, Gaines will speak to Pastors’ Conference attenders and participate in a Q&A session.

A pizza dinner will be offered onsite Tuesday evening for $10 per person. To purchase dinner tickets and for more Pastors’ Conference info, go to IBSAannualmeeting.org.

Broadview | Whatever happens in the general election, preach the Word—and stick to the Word—speakers at the 2016 IBSA Pastors’ Conference exhorted their audience. The first day of the meeting at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church in metro Chicago coincided with the concluding games of the World Series, so several of the speakers got in on the Cubs banter, but ultimately the stuck to the Word.

david-sutton

David Sutton

“We think about what’s going on in our world today,” said pastor David Sutton of Bread of Life Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, who also served as president and organizer of the event. “So much grief,” he said, referring to a record number of shootings in the city the previous weekend. “When I think about this being an election year, it seems to further exacerbate things—there are so many things we can allow to divide us—even where we live, if we live in a rural town or a large community.”

The theme for the conference is “Crossroads, our pathway to reconciliation,” building on the “Cross Culture” theme of the IBSA Annual Meeting which will follow the pastors’ gathering.

“I believe God has called us together for such a time as this, even as we stand together in such a divided time,” Sutton said, pointing out the dichotomies of Illinois’ geography and population. “We come from so many different groups and backgrounds, [but] even in our differences we can come together…. I heard one preacher say we may not agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean we can’t walk together hand-in-hand.”

The featured preachers built on that theme, repeatedly igniting the crowd of pastors from Northern and Southern Illinois, black and white and Hispanic and Asian, in cheers and applause.

fred-luter-2

Fred Luter

“If God can change you and me, the same God can change their lives,” said Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, speaking of lost people, particularly those engaged in drugs, gang activity, and a litany of sinful lifestyles he enumerated.

“In your B.C. days, in other words, in your ‘before Christ’ days, what did it take to change you? Before you stopped drinking, before you stopped shacking up, before you stopped using the N-word, before you stopped going to casinos and playing the lottery (I hoped you stopped!)… you heard the gospel! You heard the gospel of Jesus Christ! You were transformed by the power of the gospel…. The same gospel can change our city and can change those knuckleheads in our streets!”

Luter, who served as the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, urged the crowd: “Come on preachers, let’s preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! Come on teachers, let’s teach the gospel of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah, Jesus saves!”

scott-nichols

Scott Nichols

Illinois pastor Scott Nichols of Crossroads Community Church in Carol Stream, said “reconciliation is painful, hard work” but it’s our calling for “those in the grip of sin…because God’s done reconciliation in my life. Our purpose is not growing our church. The purpose is making us like Christ. The purpose is winning the world to Christ,” Nichols said.

Politics was overshadowed by Gospel in the preaching and in the breakout sessions. “Leave the political stuff alone, that is only going to divide,” said Ron Gray, pastor of The Connection Church in Chicago, in a breakout session.

“With all this is going on around us, someone should be asking ‘Is God trying to tell us something?” said H. B. Charles, Jr., a skilled expositor and pulpiteer from Jacksonville, Florida.

hb-charles3

HB Charles, Jr

“God speaks by his actions, but God also speaks by in his inactions.” There is the wrath that is due man’s rebellion, “and there is the wrath of abandonment” for those who persist in the sins listed in Romans 1, as God turns them over to the outcomes of their sins.

As several speakers said, whatever the outcome of the election on November 8, the next day God will still be on the throne and in charge. “I was tempted to label this sermon the unelected and unimpeachable king!” Charles said. “His almighty Son has already been appointed King, and he is not up for re-election.”

“Thank you, Lord!” came the reply from the pews.

Any leader who has led for any amount of time knows the sting of criticism and rejection. But getting through it isn’t a matter of external circumstances, but one of internal transformation, said Pastor Phil Hunter.

“If you’re struggling with the unkindness of your people, understand that God’s calling for you first and foremost is not for them to change and be kind to you,” Hunter preached at the IBSA Pastors’ Conference in Marion. Rather, God’s calling “is to love them like Christ loves you.”

“Sugars, you gotta be changed by God,” said Hunter, pastor of West County Community Church in Wildwood, Mo.

Using several terms of endearment for his audience—sugars, sweeties, buddies—Hunter exhorted pastors to stay the course in spite of difficulty.

Joining Hunter at the podium were Timothy Cowin, pastor of The Rock Church of St. Louis, Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., and Shane Garrison, an associate professor and dean of online education at Campbellsville University. The four preachers each brought messages around this year’s conference theme: #BuiltUp.

Scroggins and Garrison both preached evangelism-themed messages about reaching people who are far from God. In his diverse community, Scroggins said, millions of people aren’t connected to a church. Therefore, he said, churches have to reject the “Pharisee school” model of church.

“We’ve got to be beggars trying to tell other beggars where we found the bread.”

Garrison echoed that theme in his message about Vacation Bible School, where he was saved as a child and self-described “spiritual orphan.” He urged churches to view VBS as an opportunity to reach out to kids who aren’t connected with the church. When you reach spiritual orphans, Garrison said, God reaches the family.

Cowin preached from Acts 4 on vital practices to be spiritually powerful and successful in the culture, and to avoid dead religion. The early church met together to praise God, he said. Likewise, modern worship services ought to be more exciting than anything in culture.

Following Cowin’s message, Hunter skipped his scheduled introduction and jumped on stage to ask the worship team to re-play the song they had just finished. Telling pastors there would never be a safer place to raise their hands in worship, he encouraged them first to open their hands to release whatever they were holding on to.

Hunter closed the Pastors’ Conference with a message on being “built to last” as a leader. He gave four foundational principles for leaders who don’t quit, beginning with an understanding that God does the building.

He told about a time early in his marriage when he and his wife were on the brink of divorce. They looked like the perfect Christian couple. But, “We got impressed by what God was going to do through us, when all along, the greater work was what God was going to do in us.”

If you’re impressed by anything in your life, Hunter said, you’re not going to be built by God to last. The second principle is related to the first: Without humility, there is no building. And the third points to eternity: The building is never completed until we see Christ face to face.

“Don’t ever think you’ve arrived,” Hunter said, “and don’t ever think you have to be where someone else is.”

Finally, resolve that you are going to trust God to build you, no matter what happens in your life. Hunter recalled advice he once received from a pastor and professor: Only allow yourself to have a major crisis every 10 years. So choose carefully.

He closed his final message the same way he had begun his first one the day before: by calling on pastors in the audience to stand and worship without any reservation or hesitation.

“I’m in a kickin’ disposition,” Hunter said, rallying his listeners again to lift their hands and clap in worship.

Officers for the 2016 IBSA Pastors’ Conference are President David Sutton, Bread of Life Baptist Church, Chicago; Vice President Brian Smith, Second Baptist Church, Granite City; and Treasurer Bob Stilwell, First Baptist Church, Paxton. The 2016 conference is Nov. 1-2 at Broadview Missionary Baptist Church.

Chuck Kelley concluded the Pastors’ Conference Wednesday with a challenge about leading the next generation, followed by the first day of the IBSA Annual Meeting. The schedule of business and budgets and reports was interspersed with worship led by LifeWay’s Mike Harland and Gospel trio Sons of the Father. Wednesday evening’s worship service highlighted church planting, including a charge by NAMB’s Gary Frost to be bold for the sake of the Gospel.

Carmen Halsey, Tammie Emerson, and Andrea Cruse at the annual Ministers' Wives' Conference.

IBSA’s Carmen Halsey joined Tammie Emerson and Andrea Cruse, both from Living Faith Baptist in Sherman, at the annual Ministers’ Wives’ Conference.

DeAndre Williams from Eternity Baptist in Centralia reads along with Dr. Chuck Kelley during the final message of the IBSA Pastors' Conference.

DeAndre Williams from Eternity Baptist in Centralia reads along with Dr. Chuck Kelley during the final message of the IBSA Pastors’ Conference.

Outgoing Pastors' Conference president Chad Ozee (left) laughs with new president Michael Allen (right) and newly elected treasurer David Sutton.

Outgoing Pastors’ Conference president Chad Ozee (left) laughs with new president Michael Allen (right) and newly elected treasurer David Sutton.

East St. Louis church planter Barnicio Cureton prays during the opening session of the Annual Meeting.

East St. Louis church planter Barnicio Cureton prays during the opening session of the Annual Meeting.

Messengers approve the 2014 IBSA budget.

Messengers conduct the meeting’s first official vote.

Jonathan Peters,  finishing his second year as IBSA President, preached on Jonah to end the Tuesday afternoon session.

Jonathan Peters, finishing his second year as IBSA President, preached on Jonah to end the Wednesday afternoon session.

IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams presenting the board's report.

IBSA Executive Director Nate Adams presenting the board’s report.

Les, Chris and Brent Snyder, or Sons of the Father, opened the Wednesday evening session with a worship concert.

Les, Chris and Brent Snyder, or Sons of the Father, opened the Wednesday evening session with a worship concert.

Churches affiliating with IBSA are presented to messengers.

Churches affiliating with IBSA are presented to messengers.

Gene Crume, president of Judson University, shared about a partnership between IBSA and the school that will bring students to the campus this summer for a "Go Week" focused on missions.

Gene Crume, president of Judson University, shared about a partnership between IBSA and the school that will bring Illinois students to the campus this summer for a “Go Week” focused on missions.

IBSA's Van Kicklighter (left) interviewed Alton church planter Steven Helfrich during the worship service focused on Mission Illinois: Churches Together Advancing the Gospel.

IBSA’s Van Kicklighter (left) interviewed Alton church planter Steven Helfrich during the worship service focused on Mission Illinois: Churches Together Advancing the Gospel.

Boldness manifests itself in confidence for a believer in Christ, Gary Frost said. But, "don't confuse confidence with arrogance," added the North American Mission Board's Midwest vice president.

Boldness manifests itself in confidence for a believer in Christ, Gary Frost said. But, “don’t confuse confidence with arrogance,” added the North American Mission Board’s Midwest vice president.

Meeting attenders committed to pray for church planters, partner with them in their work, or explore planting opportunities themselves.

Meeting attenders committed to pray for church planters, partner with them in their work, or explore planting opportunities themselves.

After the session, messengers visited with Illinois church planters at a dessert reception. (Pie was served in the lobby, but attenders had to visit a church planter in order to get a fork.)

After the session, messengers visited with Illinois church planters at a dessert reception. (Pie was served in the lobby, but attenders had to visit a church planter in order to get a fork.)

I want you to know

Meredith Flynn —  November 4, 2013
MI_logo

The IBSA Annual Meeting Nov. 13-14 will explore the theme “Mission Illinois: Churches Together Advancing the Gospel.”

HEARTLAND | Nate Adams

Opportunities for our entire Illinois Baptist family of churches to be together at once are all too rare.  But the IBSA Annual Meeting each November is one of those precious opportunities.  This year the meeting returns to the downtown Springfield Hilton for the first time since our 100th anniversary meeting in 2007. I hope to see you there November 13-14, or perhaps earlier at the Pastors Conference or one of the other related gatherings.

Click here for more on the IBSA Annual Meeting.

But in case you can’t come, let me preview some highlights of the information that I plan to share during that meeting.

I want you to know that Illinois Baptists are going into their Acts 1:8 mission fields in dramatically increased numbers. After several years of our churches reporting around 20,000 missions volunteers, last year churches reported more than 27,000 volunteers, a 34% increase! And there is no indication of that rate slowing down this year.

I want you to know that 28 new churches were planted across our state last year, and through August of this year at least 19 more have been planted. During our Wednesday night worship session at the Annual Meeting we will be hearing from seven of those creative and hard-working planters, and you will be able to meet them and others in person during a dessert reception following the session.

Dr. Gary Frost of the North American Mission Board will bring a challenging message that evening, and you will also meet Dr. Gene Crume, Judson University’s new president, and hear about an exciting new church planting partnership we are working on together in Chicagoland.

I want you to know that our dedicated staff continues to crisscross the state helping churches, and that through September they have already delivered 17,000 trainings in strategic ministry and mission skills to IBSA church leaders and workers.  Baptisms in IBSA churches were up over 2% last year, and the continued momentum of evangelism strategies like “Choose 2” give us hope of another increase when all the 2013 Annual Church Profiles are tabulated.

Finally, in case you can’t come to the annual meeting, I want you to know that the IBSA Board is exploring the option of acquiring a new property in Springfield, a retreat-like facility devoted to leadership development and pastoral renewal. You can read more about that possibility in this issue of the Illinois Baptist, and there will be additional information on http://www.IBSA.org.

Last year when the IBSA Board was exploring this possibility, I invited feedback, both positive and cautionary, from IBSA churches.  The responses were relatively few, but were favorable toward the idea by about a two-to-one margin.

The cautionary and even negative responses were just as helpful as the supportive and enthusiastic ones, however. They helped lead me to recommend to the IBSA Board that we not make an offer on the property unless or until we had the cash in hand to acquire it, even though that probably meant missing the opportunity. And they helped me discover some concerns about developing our camp properties that I felt could be addressed in time.

To my surprise, the potential leadership center property we looked at last year is still available, now at a further reduced price. That doesn’t necessarily mean we should acquire it. In fact, I’ve been praying that someone else would, if it’s not God’s best for IBSA churches. But the IBSA Board and I believe it’s in our best interest to at least explore the option again, because leadership development and renewal among pastors and church leaders is such a strategic need, and we think this property might play a role in meeting that need.

So please let me hear from you again, certainly if you support the idea, because often we leave positive feedback unexpressed. But if you have cautions about the idea, please patiently express them as well. Either way, I want you to know I’m listening.  And I hope to see you soon.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association.

Fred Luter encourages listeners at the SBC Pastors' Conference in Houston.

Fred Luter encourages listeners at the SBC Pastors’ Conference in Houston.

HOUSTON | “Can I just share my testimony for just a minute?”

Southern Baptist Convention President and New Orleans native Fred Luter drew on his experiences  after Hurricane Katrina to encourage listeners at the SBC Pastors’ Conference June 9.

“One day you can be pastoring thousands and thousands of people, and the next day, you can be without a congregation,” Luter said, alluding to the storm that devastated his city and his church, Franklin Avenue Baptist.

“One day, you’re in a city where everybody knows your name…and the next day, you’re in the city where you’re only known by your FEMA number.”

Luter’s message, from Psalm 34, focused on taking heart when you get to “the other side of ministry,” when afflictions and trials of all kinds threaten to discourage and overwhelm the righteous.

“Every child of God sooner or later in life will face the other side of ministry,” he said.

He spoke like a pastor to the crowd assembled at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, exhorting them to pay special attention to the word “but” in Psalm 34:19. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

‘That word ‘but’ is a sanctified conjunction,” Luter said to laughter from the audience. “It negates everything that was said before.” He told the crowd that just when it feels like everything is about to go under, “God can put a ‘but’ in your situation.”

He ended his message with an illustration from his favorite movie franchise, James Bond. Animatedly, he described how the super spy manages to get himself out of every scrape he ever gets into. While watching a documentary one day about the making of James Bond movies, Luter said he realized how that was possible: The writers write it that way in the script!

Holding up his Bible and smiling joyously at the crowd, Luter said, “You know how I know you’re going to make it?

“It’s in the script!”