Pastors and churches must humble themselves and pursue a closer walk with God if they want to experience His peace, joy and purpose, speakers said at the 2015 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in its first two sessions June 14-15.
The conference, focusing on the theme “He Must Increase” from John the Baptist’s statement in John 3:30, precedes the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
Speakers in the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions included:
Dean Fulks, lead pastor of LifePoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, in the opening message of the conference June 14, used the story of Jonah to illustrate the need for pastors to live with repentant hearts.
Sometimes pastors may mistakenly believe that God is waiting for them to step out of line so He can clobber them, Fulks said. But a biblical picture is found in Romans 2:3, where Paul writes that God’s kindness is what leads to repentance.
“God will be glorified by my life. God will be glorified by your life,” Fulks said. “Either through my joyful obedience or through my rebellious disobedience … God will be glorified.”
As God didn’t give up on Jonah, Fulks said He wouldn’t give up on pastors even on their worst days.
“Jesus took on His shoulders the wrath of God — not just of the sinners that fill our pews but the sins of those of us who fill the pulpits,” Fulks said.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, challenged pastors not to fear shifting cultural tides in America but to allow the Gospel to frame their mission.
“[T]he temptation we are going to have is to move into that changing culture with a lack of confidence and with a spirit of fear,” Moore said. As the culture has abandoned Christian views on morality, he reminded pastors that God is not surprised and that Christians have been on the “wrong” side of culture before.
“Maybe God is interested right now not so much in getting America in line with the church as God is interested in getting the church out of step with America,” Moore said, calling Christians to serve with convictional kindness and hold out the Gospel as the only hope for everyone.
“Remember that the power of the Gospel is able to reach, … transform, … [and] turn around any heart,” Moore said, “and we must have the confidence to go into any culture with that message.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press