Ex-SBC presidents set for MBC preaching conference
JEFFERSON CITY – Two past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have been secured for the “Preaching for Changed Lives” conference Nov. 27-28 at First Baptist Church, Arnold.
James T. Draper Jr. and James Henry will be ministering with the host pastor, Kenny Qualls, in a context where they can equip pastors. Last year’s inaugural workshop at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City featured Roy Fish, distinguished professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and James Shaddix, pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Denver, along with host pastor Monte Shinkle. Ron Barker, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) spiritual awakening / personal evangelism specialist, said the format of two well-known preachers hosted by a pastor who is known throughout Missouri is working well.
“We’re simply trying to provide for our pastors better ways to communicate with their folks, how to feed their flock and how to reach lost people,” Barker said. “Dr. Draper and Dr. Henry both have said, ‘Look, we want to come, as long as we can be involved in the mentoring mentality toward these guys. At this point in our lives, we want to invest in these pastors.’ And these guys, I think, represent real servants.”
Draper, SBC president in 1979-80 and 1982-84, is president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources. Henry was SBC president from 1994-96 and is the retired pastor of First Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla. Together they are among a group of established Southern Baptist leaders who are committed to reaching out to younger pastors within the denomination through events like the MBC/First Arnold preaching workshop, Barker said.
“Paul is clear about teaching his younger fellow, Timothy, and Timothy was wise enough to listen to him,” Barker said. “Now younger pastors are idealistic, independent, but they need to know they can trust our convention, and I think in some ways, they’ve lost confidence in us. I think that we need to do everything we can to build that back, and younger pastors can benefit particularly from these two guys. These guys are in the business of turning out young ministers who do a good job and are equipped.”
Cost for the two-day conference is $25 before Nov. 15. Registration includes conference materials, breaks, dinner on Monday and a continental breakfast on Tuesday.
Barker emphasized that organizers are very committed to making the conference as affordable as possible for Missouri’s large contingent of bi-vocational pastors. For example, some of the First Arnold senior adult Sunday School classes have made it a project to provide housing and scholarship assistance to those who wish to attend. From the pastor’s perspective, Qualls has told Barker that he wants the church to be known as a center that helps and equips pastors through events like this one.
“They want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to come that wants to,” Barker said. “They (the bi-vocational pastors) will have to take two days off to make the conference, but at the same time we hope they will see that we’re making an effort to provide something that’s worth taking two days off for.”
The conference begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 27 with registration leading up to the beginning of the first session at 2 p.m. After dinner, the second session begins at 6:30 p.m. and lasts until 8:30 p.m. On Nov. 28, the final session starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs through the close of the conference at noon.
Last year’s conference was about preaching and teaching to bring about life change. This year’s conference is going to be about communicating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the 21st Century.
“So much of preaching today involves information and it lacks application,” Barker said. “We have a hard time applying the Christian life to our lives. We kind of leave the church house and we leave our Christianity at the building and nothing happens with the salt and light out here through the week.
“So how do you help people get to where this is not what we do, this is who we are? And I think the pulpit has always been the key to that through the foolishness of preaching. It’s still that way.”
The timing of the conference seems to be ideal, Barker said.
“Usually Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving there’s not a whole lot going on,” he said. “It’s just before the Christmas things start happening in a local church, but it’s after a long weekend. It seems to be a time that didn’t bother us last year at all.”