KANSAS CITY (BP) – Examining and celebrating the unique stewardship God entrusts to those called into Christian ministry, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary held its annual For the Church National Conference, Sept. 25-26 at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.
Keynote speakers Jason Allen, H.B. Charles Jr., Ray Ortlund Jr., Owen Strachan, Matt Carter, Jared Wilson and Matt Chandler preached messages centering on the conference’s theme, “The Minister’s Trust,” while Aaron Ivey and Austin Stone Community Church’s worship team from Austin, Texas, led attendees in praise and worship songs.
The minister’s preaching
Allen, Midwestern’s president, spoke from Acts 17:1-7 in the conference’s first session on “The Minister’s Preaching” on Monday. The journey of pastoral ministry can bring many challenges and difficulties, he acknowledged, but pastors and ministry leaders must “show up” and press on daily to do God’s will.
The apostle Paul and his ministry partner, Silas, endured various trials throughout their ministry, Allen said, but through it all they remained faithful to their calling.
Pastors are to preach through hardship, he said; they are to preach the text and they are to preach for results.
“Let me say, preacher, if you find yourself under siege — pray. If you find yourself really under siege –- preach,” Allen said. “There is a call to the pulpit that calls the minister to it again and again and again. As we go, there is no shame in walking into the pulpit with a limp.”
The minister’s prayer
H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, spoke in the afternoon’s second session on the model prayer by the Hebrew spiritual leader Nehemiah.
“Faithful ministry demands believing in prayer,” Charles said in describing the importance of prayer in a ministry leader’s life.
Nehemiah prayed sincerely, reverently, honestly and confidently, which Charles said were the keys to God answering Nehemiah and are a solid model in modern times as well.
“The minister who prays sincerely prays as a first response, not as a last resort,” Charles said. “There is a lot you can do to make a difference after you have prayed, but there is nothing you can do to make the difference until you have prayed.”
The minister’s marriage
A minister’s marriage, Ray Ortlund Jr. noted, is one of the most compelling statements that can be made because it puts on visible display the mystery of God’s love in Christ.
The Bible is all about the story of marriage, said Ortlund, pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville.
“If we cave on the meaning of marriage,” he said, “we will lose not just one doctrine of the Bible, we will lose the whole point of the entire Bible…. If Jesus really is our true and better bridegroom, then to negotiate over what is so precious to Him is to insult Him at the most personal level imaginable, where His heart for us is the most tender.”
God gave people the gift of marriage – a gift that belongs only to God and can only be defined by God, Ortlund said.
The minister’s study
The work of the preacher is the most glorious calling to which anyone can be called, Owen Strachan, professor of Christian theology at Midwestern, said in his message on “The Minister’s Study.” It is the most urgent need of the church and the world, he said, and as such, there is no greater need than for the pastor to study for his preaching.
“The minister’s study is where the church’s health is decided,” Strachan said. “If the minister is weak in the study, he’ll be a mouse in the pulpit. If the minister is strong in the study, he will be a lion in the pulpit. We want lions, not mice in our pulpits.
The minister’s mission
Matt Carter, speaking on “The Minister’s Mission” from Matt. 16:13-18, underscored the need for church leaders to take their congregations from being consumers to being people actively engaged in God’s mission in everyday life.
“It has never been the biblical design for pastors and ministry leaders to be elevated in Gospel work above those in the pews,” said Carter, pastor of preaching and vision at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas.
Carter added, “The time to engage our people in the mission of God is right now. The time for your church to make a dent in church history is right now. The time to call your people to get in the fight is right now.”
The minister’s legacy
Stating that pastors must maintain perspective on their place within the ministry, Jared Wilson, director of content strategy and managing editor of the For the Church website, said, “To have a legacy that eternally matters, you must resign your will to the supremacy of the glory of Christ and trade in your ambitions of personal success for the beauty of the bride of Christ.
“The Gospel is bigger than me; it is better than me,” he added. “Pastor, do you conduct ministry like you are the gospel to your church, as if it is really you who makes the difference? You are not called to be successful; you are called to be faithful.”
The minister’s Gospel
Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, preached from Romans 8 in the conference’s final plenary session, painting a picture for pastors of Christ’s love and acceptance for them – despite their shortcomings.
“(God) loves you as your heavenly Father, adores you, rejoices over you, and celebrates you,” Chandler told pastors. “His grace covers your shortcomings. If you can get this, everything changes.”
On Tuesday afternoon, eight workshops and breakout sessions were also held.
The 2018 For the Church National Conference will take place in Kansas City on Sept. 24-25 on “The Mission and Majesty of the Church.” For further information, visit mbts.edu/ftc18.
To view the plenary sessions of the For the Church conference, visit Midwestern’s resources page at mbts.edu.