Archives For SBC Pastors’ Conference

Welcome to our mission field

Elizabeth Young

Elizabeth Young

For the third time in 14 years, Arizona Southern Baptists will welcome the larger Southern Baptist family to Phoenix in June.

When Phoenix was chosen to host the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting the first time in 2003, we were more than a little surprised, given our reputation for high summertime temperatures. But with Baptists’ repeated visits, we figured the word must have gotten out that, given our low humidity, our average 102-106 degree June temperature isn’t as bad as “back home” for a lot of folks.

We’re delighted when the family comes to town. We hope, for many, it’s a reminder that Southern Baptist work does exist outside of the Deep South and west of the Continental Divide. Illinois Baptists may feel the same way about recognition of Southern Baptists north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

While we want to offer a warm welcome to the family, we sincerely pray that our guests will remember they are on a mission field. We pray for a quiet, peaceful annual meeting so that we don’t have to explain to our lost neighbors why feuding Baptists, or Baptists engaged in culture wars, made the local news. When you’re up to your eyeballs in lost people, it puts a different perspective on priorities of concern.

Illinois Baptists probably understand this, too. Although we have some differences, we seem to have a lot in common.

You have more people—almost 13 million to our 6.9 million—but we have more land—nearly 114,000 square miles to your almost 58,000. You have more churches—nearly 1,000 to our about 450—but we have similar church-to-population ratios—one church for every 13,000 people in Illinois and one for every 15,000 in Arizona.

Both of our states have one large metropolitan area that encompasses two-thirds or more of the state’s population. And whether it’s Chicagoland or greater Phoenix, also known as the Valley of the Sun, the city is a massive sea of people who don’t know Jesus as savior.

Whether on not you make the trek to the Grand Canyon State this summer, our message to you is the same. We’re drawing from Paul’s Macedonian Call in Acts 16:9 and inviting you to “Come over…and help us.”

Consider what God is calling you to do:
• Pray for God’s work in our vast state.
• Partner with an Arizona church.
• Plant a church in Arizona.

May God give all of us a “Macedonian” vision for Arizona—and beyond!

Elizabeth Young is director of communications for the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and the editor of Portraits magazine.

Michael Allen

In a complete revamp from any year in memory, the 2017 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference features pastors of average-sized SBC churches who will preach through one book of the Bible—Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Michael Allen, pastor of Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago and a former president of IBSA’s Pastors’ Conference, is one of 12 pastors who will take the stage in Phoenix June 11-12. The group also includes David Choi, pastor of Chicago’s Church of the Beloved.

Allen spoke with the Illinois Baptist about his upcoming message and what pastors like him contribute to the SBC family:

Q: What passage will you preach in Phoenix?

A: I’ll be preaching Philippians 3:17-21. This passage gives us a reminder of our citizenship in heaven, and helps the church distinguish itself from the world in how we think, act, and live. And then it also reminds us that it is the resurrection power of Christ that changes us both inside and out.

Q: What do you think is unique about what smaller or average-sized churches (and their pastors) add to SBC life?

A: The conference choice of pastors who lead small and medium-sized churches helps the conference attendees better identify and relate to guys just like them. We know that most churches in America, regardless of denomination, are small (less than 100). It also highlights the fact that pastors of smaller churches can effectively handle the Word of God, even in big venues. The Scriptures remind us not to “despise small beginnings” (Zech. 4:10).

Q: The conference this year also is focused on diversity. In your opinion, what is the value of hearing from pastors of different ethnicities and backgrounds?

A: We all have a unique cultural background which colors how we see and experience life. Culture also is a lens through which we see and interpret God’s Word and God himself. So hearing from ethnically diverse preachers in our convention enriches us all, because God made us different and his intentions are that we learn from and complement each other.

Q: You represent both the Midwest and one of the country’s largest cities. What about your ministry experience in Chicago do you want the larger SBC family to hear and understand?

A: The SBC family needs to understand that the world continues to move into ever-growing metropolitan cities, making them more and more diverse—ethnically, socio-economically, religiously, and every other measurement of diversity. Therefore, we have a great opportunity to win the world to Christ without ever boarding a plane.

At the same time [increasing diversity] makes ministry more complex, and more resources are needed to do ministry here. Whatever strategy the International Mission Board is using to reach the world for Christ can and should be prayerfully considered to be employed in America’s rich and diverse urban centers. IMB and the North American Mission Board ought to continue to seek ways they can collaborate with each other for the glory of God in the salvation of souls.

The primary group of preachers at the Pastors’ Conference will be joined by four pastors who will give testimonies of how their lives and ministries have benefited from smaller membership churches:

  • SBC President Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis
  • J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., and former SBC president
  • Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, and former SBC president

For more information on the Pastors’ Conference, including a full schedule, go to sbcannualmeeting.net.

Nate Adams IBSA exterior

Nate Adams

In just a few weeks, thousands of church messengers will gather in Phoenix for the annual Southern Baptist Convention and its many related events and opportunities. Last year’s St. Louis convention drew 533 messengers from Illinois, our state’s largest representation since 2002. Only host state Missouri and nearby Tennessee sent more messengers, and I believe Illinois Baptists’ strong showing gave us a stronger than usual voice in the national convention.

It would be great to have as many Illinois messengers as possible in Phoenix, but if history is any indicator, distance and travel expense will reduce our numbers significantly. Even if you can’t travel that far west this year, let me share a couple of ways you can stay engaged with the larger SBC from right here in Illinois.

First, the convention itself and some related events will be live streamed via the Internet, providing a front row seat from your computer screen. Our IBSA communications staff will also be there, uploading the latest happenings to IBSA.org and giving you an Illinois perspective on news coming out of the convention.

You and your church can also participate in the evangelistic efforts that surround this year’s Southern Baptist Convention, and in a way that reaches out not only to Phoenix, but to your community as well. This year the SBC is partnering with evangelist Greg Laurie to bring the Harvest America Crusade to the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday evening, June 11.

In Phoenix or from Illinois, you can help share the gospel with half a million people.

While an estimated 65,000 people will gather in the stadium that night, the Harvest Crusade hopes to invite as many as 500,000 viewers through multiple simulcast locations, such as our churches and homes right here in Illinois. In a similar Harvest America Crusade in Texas last year, more than 24,000 people made professions of faith in Christ, many of them at the remote simulcast sites.

Might this Harvest America Crusade be something that your church would consider hosting on June 11, as a way of inviting your community to hear the gospel message, and participate in potentially one of the largest evangelistic events in American history? Or perhaps you would consider hosting a small group in your home, and using it as a conversation starter with friends for whom you have been praying.

Pat Pajak, IBSA’s associate executive director of evangelism, is already in communication with dozens of pastors and evangelism leaders across Illinois, asking them to consider hosting a simulcast location. If you would like information on being a host site on June 11, you can contact Pat directly at PatPajak@IBSA.org or (217) 391-3129.

It’s amazing to me that technology and a little planning and cooperation among Christians and churches can make it possible for a half million people to hear the gospel message at the same time. It also reminds me that we could do so much more to spread the good news about Jesus if we would leverage these same things more consistently in our churches.

For example, does your church have young people that could help you use social media more effectively in reaching your community, and beyond? Are there tech-savvy folks sitting in the back rows of your auditorium that could be invited to the front rows of service?

We can stay here in Illinois and yet engage the larger Baptist family as it gathers in Phoenix. We can stay in our churches or homes and yet be part of sharing the gospel with a half million people at once. And we can stay at our computer screens and help our church reach people in new ways through technology. Aren’t these amazing days, when God has given us the ability to go, even when we stay?

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Church in the United StatesThe election for President of the Southern Baptist Convention last month understandably attracted a lot of attention. But I was just as intrigued with the election for President of the annual SBC Pastors Conference that took place the day before.

Dave Miller, pastor of a medium-sized church in Sioux City, Iowa, somewhat surprisingly prevailed with 55% of the vote. The Pastors Conference President has traditionally been a megachurch pastor, often from a southern or larger state.

From my perspective, Pastor Miller ran not so much on his personal ministry resume as on a platform of ideas that proposed taking at least the 2017 Pastors Conference in a very new direction. Conference speakers would be only from SBC churches. No one who has spoken at the Pastors Conference in the past five years would speak at the 2017 meeting. Speakers would represent a diversity of geography, age, ethnicity, preaching style, and perspective. And there would be a focus on inviting pastors to speak who lead churches of 500 or fewer.

I’m glad we are reminded that these churches have a lot
to offer.

Not many of these parameters describe the Pastors Conferences of recent years, and the new ideas clearly resonated with a majority of those voting. Pastor Miller was elected, and his response the next day in his SBC Voices blog reminded me a little of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” He wrote, “The budget of this two-day event is pretty much the annual budget of my church…But we are in this together and we are going to be looking to expand our circle.”

While I personally would have been glad for either candidate to lead next year’s Pastors Conference, I can’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction in the ideas that it appears will now influence next year’s program. I too have wondered why the same men sometimes speak in consecutive years of the Pastors Conference, or why speakers aren’t always from SBC churches.

Most of all, as a Midwestern Southern Baptist, I celebrate the idea that there are gifted preachers in small to medium-sized churches, and in churches outside the Deep South, and in churches of diverse cultural settings. The Pastors Conference will benefit from some of these voices, as it has from the gifted communicators who lead many of our megachurches.

After 10 years at IBSA, I still speak in or visit a church for the very first time at least once or twice a month. Many times someone in those churches will say something like, “We didn’t think you would come to a church our size,” or “We waited until our 100th anniversary to invite you because we know you’re so busy.”

I’m always humbled and a little embarrassed by those assumptions. So I want to say again that IBSA and I personally truly desire to serve and assist each and every local church we can, regardless of size, location, ethnicity, or age. Especially if I’ve never been there, I would love to come to your church, to get to know your church family, and to listen to your pastor or give him a week off, whatever serves the church best.

The average Southern Baptist church in Illinois had about 80 in worship last year. Across the SBC, the average was around 110. It may be that larger churches tend to have more full-time pastors and more practiced and polished preachers. But the ones I’ve been learning from all my life lead these wonderful, average churches. I’m glad a pastor from western Iowa reminded us that pastors from these churches have a lot to offer. And I’d love to come and worship in yours sometime soon.

Nate Adams is executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association. Respond at IllinoisBaptist@IBSA.org.

Jimmy Scroggins

Jimmy Scroggins

St. Louis | Speakers at the SBC Pastors’ Conference preached on one passage during the 2016 meeting in the Gateway City, diving deep into the apostle Paul’s instruction to younger church leader Timothy.

“Live This,” the theme of this year’s Pastors’ Conference, was taken from 2 Timothy 4:5-6, when Paul urges Timothy to “be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Ten preachers unpacked the Scripture passage, using their messages to urge leaders toward greater obedience, particularly the area of evangelism, and to be mindful of the legacy they’re leaving.

Do the work

“The last thing the nations need is the exportation of nominal Christianity from North America,” International Mission Board David Platt preached in a message on “do the work of an evangelist.”

In his post at the IMB, Platt says he sees much of the broader missions world that is “gospel-less and gospel-lite.” Debates about whether or not to call Jesus the Son of God when conversing with Muslims. Practices that minimize the call to Christ in the gospel, assuring people that they can be both Christian and Muslim.

Platt asked, What does that have to do with us? “Missionaries are reflections of the pastors who train them and the churches who send them,” he said.

“If we preach a small view of God, people will have a small view of the gospel. If we preach a glorious view of God, people will have a glorious view of the gospel.”

Jimmy Scroggins preached on Paul’s proclamation that he had “poured himself out” for the task of evangelism. The West Palm Beach, Fla., pastor opened his message by describing his diverse community. His congregation, Family Church, was named the 9th fastest growing church by a magazine, Scroggins said, which is the way it ought to be, because they live in an area with a lot of people who are far from God.

But even with their fast growth, “we are not making a dent in the millions of lost people right there within a few miles of our church,” he said.

Looking at recent statistics from LifeWay Christian Resources, it’s apparent churches across the SBC are facing similar challenges, Scroggins added. He gave conference attenders four steps churches and leaders can pour themselves out for the task of evangelism, starting with investing in far-from-God people.

Scroggins told the audience how, as a pastor in Kentucky, his church had been winning people to the Lord, but they were “nearly saved” people. In West Palm Beach, it was a different story. Some people may say evangelism just isn’t their lane, he said.

“If your lane does not take you and your church to far-from-God people, change lanes.”

Read the June 20 issue of the Illinois Baptist for additional coverage of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.

– Meredith Flynn

Dave Miller copyIowa pastor and blogger Dave Miller has been elected president of next year’s SBC Pastors’ Conference. Prior to the meeting here in St. Louis, Miller had blogged about his proposed direction for the Pastors’ Conference, with a focus on inviting pastors of small and medium-sized churches to preach.

“I am both excited and I’m terrified,” Miller posted on SBC Voices following the election. “Brutally terrified. The budget of this two day event is pretty much the annual budget of my church. The logistics are a little bit more complicated than putting together a church potluck back home. But we are in this together and we are going to be looking to expand our circle. I believe we can do something that will be different. And in a good way.”

Announcing Miller’s nomination May 9,  Indiana pastor Todd Benkert told Baptist Press he wants “to nominate a small church guy and do a different kind of Pastors’ Conference [next] year.”

Miller “is a small church pastor,” Benkert said. “Dave has shown over the years both in his blogging and participating in convention life that he’s committed to unity in the SBC and he’s committed to broad participation among the various groups that make up the SBC. When we first spoke about a vision for the Pastors’ Conference, we were looking at [inviting speakers who were] diverse geographically [and in terms of] age, ethnicity, soteriology — all those things that make up who we are as Southern Baptists.”

Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, is an Iowa native and son of missionary parents.

Additional reporting by Baptist Press

 

 

‘Live this’ way

ib2newseditor —  June 2, 2016

Pastors_Conference_Speakers

Pastors’ Conference to focus on evangelism

The 2016 SBC Pastors’ Conference will explore a charge given by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:5-6:

“But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.”

“I don’t think anybody can deny that we are at an all-time low in evangelism,” said Pastors’ Conference President John Meador, who chose “Live This” as the conference theme. “I don’t think anyone can deny that no one is going to change this unless that pastor does. And because of those truths, I think this Pastors’ Conference is critical and crucial.”

The conference, which begins the evening of Sunday, June 12, features eight speakers preaching on the key Scripture passage (left to right, above):

• Jack Graham, pastor, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas
• Greg Laurie, pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, Ca.
• James MacDonald, pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicagoland
• Byron McWilliams, pastor, First Baptist Church, Odessa, Texas
• Noah Oldham, pastor, August Gate Church, St. Louis
• David Platt, president, International Mission Board
• Jimmy Scroggins, pastor, Family Church, West Palm Beach, Fla.
• Ed Stetzer, executive director, LifeWay Research

During the Monday afternoon session, pastors are invited to breakout sessions with conference speakers and other leaders on how to equip and encourage church members in evangelism.

The Pastors’ Conference, June 12-13 at the America’s Center in St. Louis, is free and requires no advance registration. Childcare for children ages birth through 12 years will be offered during all conference sessions. Kids ages 4-12 may register for a conference provided by Children’s Conferences International at childrensconferences.com. Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers also will offer childcare for newborns through age 5.

For more information about the Pastors’ Conference, schedule, speakers and worship leaders, go to sbcpc.net.