Elliffs highlight Pastors’ Conference
JEFFERSON CITY – One of the more recognizable family names in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will be prominent Oct. 30 in the Show Me Center on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University as “The Master’s Builder: A Life of Integrity from the Book of Nehemiah” is presented at the 2006 Missouri Baptist Pastors’ Conference.
The Elliff family—featuring a retired preacher father, three preacher sons and a preaching grandson—will bring all of the messages that day out of a deep well of passion that Pastors’ Conference President Vic Borden, pastor of Red Bridge Baptist Church, Kansas City, can only describe as rich.
“They are not approaching this as a duty to fulfill or a responsibility to complete,” Borden said. “They are approaching this as a profound ministry opportunity where they can tell the story of leadership from Nehemiah through a family lens.
“The Elliffs are filled with Christian graces. There’s humility. There’s kindness. There’s a cooperative spirit that I am seeing and hearing. There’s a ‘what-can-we-do-for-you’ type of a heart.”
Tom Elliff, Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations for the International Mission Board (IMB) of the SBC, was originally scheduled to bring five messages. Elliff, a former two-term SBC president, prayed about what the Lord would have him do before telling Borden that he would like to include the testimony of his 89-year-old father, J.T., who saw himself disqualified from ministry after a dramatic fall into moral sin. Borden and his fellow officers, President-Elect Joe Braden, pastor, First Baptist Church, St. Peters, and Treasurer Jerry Tharp, pastor, Lone Jack Baptist Church, agreed with Tom Elliff’s idea.
“Then it grew to including his brothers, who are strong leaders in their own right, as well as his son,” Borden said. “So it just kind of evolved. It’s almost like they have kind of wrapped their arms around our Pastors’ Conference and really taken a bit of personal responsibility on themselves.”
Tom Elliff, longtime pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., will bring the first and fifth messages. Jim Elliff, founder and president of Christian Communicators Worldwide, based in Parkville, will bring the second message. After lunch, Jon Elliff, Tom’s son and pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church, Bartlesville, Okla., will bring the third message, followed by Bill Elliff, pastor of The Summit Church, North Little Rock, Ark.
The conference opens at 8:50 a.m. with music by This Hope, a Gospel singing group based out of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., that will be singing five times during the conference, and ends at 4:25 p.m.
“If you would have asked me nine months ago what it would have looked like as it finished up, I would not have had this picture in mind,” Borden said. “How this has come together has been somewhat illustrative of what it is that we’re going to be sharing.”
The theme started out with the concept that the local pastor is the vessel that God uses in His ministry. Each leader in the local church is really the Master’s builder, because it is His church, Borden said. Lessons of leadership from the texts of the Book of Nehemiah were thought to be where the main speaker would go in his study to develop a series of messages.
But Tom Elliff sought to narrow the original theme of leadership down to a theme of integrity in leadership. The key to the execution of the new theme, conference leaders agree, is the delivery of the opening testimony by J.T. Elliff, who has thoroughly repented of his moral failure and has been restored to fellowship. As a result, the Elliff family patriarch is ready to testify to a room full of pastors at 9:10 a.m. that sin has consequences. When the Master’s builder falls into sin, he loses his integrity. This is where the conference will begin.
“You don’t want to miss the opening session,” Borden said. “That is huge. It is a gripping testimony, from everything I’ve heard about it. I believe that this senior saint is going to bring the goods.”
Tom Elliff will build on that with a message on the importance of integrity in a pastor’s prayer life before ending the conference with a message on the importance of integrity in a pastor’s ministerial life. In between, Jim Elliff will speak on integrity in one’s personal life, Jon Elliff will speak on integrity in one’s relational life, and Bill Elliff will speak on integrity in one’s devotional life.
“We are excited that God has provided this opportunity to address the pastors and their families prior to the convention,” said Jim Elliff. “We owe a lot to Missouri Baptists. When Dad pastored Bethany Baptist in Kansas City 50 years ago, it was at its height. We were thoroughly involved in the ministry as a family in the church and in the Missouri convention. Dad addressed the convention at least once during that time and was also a leader with others in simultaneous revivals and other ventures by Baptists in those days.”
Right before Jim Elliff’s message, Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America, will speak about the importance of voting for life. On Nov. 7, Missourians will decide the fate of Amendment 2, which promotes the spread of embryonic stem cell research, or human cloning.
“We’re going to give one more splash to the stem cell amendment,” Borden said.
Tom Elliff, who will complete his first year of service at his current IMB post on Nov. 1, spoke at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting in 2002. He also was a featured speaker at the 2005 MBC State Evangelism Conference.