By Brian Koonce
RAYTOWN – Pastors got a tuition-free education at the 2009 Pastors’ Conference as four professors-pastors took the stage exhorting each other to “Look to Christ” as the ultimate example of church leadership.
Joe Braden, pastor of First Baptist, St. Peters, and professor of religion at Missouri Baptist University, opened the conference with a message from Romans 1:8-17, noting that pastors should constantly preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Christians, not just to the unsaved.
“Paul wants to preach the Gospel to those already reached,” he said. “We miss something very important if we assume that Paul was only concerned about reaching new people in Rome with the Gospel. From a pastor’s heart, he desired that they would continue or persevere in the Gospel. This is, in fact, a mark of being a Christian. We do not have two different messages, or a two-tier system, one for evangelism and another for discipleship. We have one beautiful, robust message that is strong enough and powerful enough to address and move us through any spiritual condition that we may experience.”
Alan Tomlinson, professor of New Testament and Greek at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, used Romans 15:5-9 to examine the difference between unity in Christ and uniformity in Christ, especially in light of serving our fellow man.
“The Bible has an answer to the divisions, separations and misunderstanding Christians have with each other and it’s found in Romans 15,” he said. “It’s not about how we sing, or even singing in harmony. It’s about singing in unity with a oneness that brings glory to God the Father. You and I as fellow pastors and ministers and others involved in ministry are to do our relationship with one another in a manner acceptable to Him, for we are going to be held accountable to Him –not in terms of eternal judgment, but in the way we have ministered to or judged our fellow brothers and sisters. As the Lord’s ‘house servant’ we are to please our neighbor for the body’s good. It’s for edification, for the building up of the body.”
Russell Moore, preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., and senior vice president for academic administration and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, preached from Matthew 26:40-56, holding up Jesus as an example of mercy.
“All of us are created with a longing for justice, to see things made right,” he said. “But you and I are called to minister in a world in which it seems there is so little justice. If we are going to bring a picture of the Gospel to America in the 21st century, we are going to have to be a people who are shaped into being merciful – not simply by the words of our mouth, but by being a people who refuse to respond to wrongdoing with that perfectly crafted barb. You cannot be merciful unless you trust in God’s perfect and ultimate judgment.”
The final speaker of the conference was Gordon Dutile, provost emeritus of Southwest Baptist University. His text was I Corinthians 3:1-9, 4:1-5, and his sermon dealt with Christ’s Church and His servants.
“We are to be his table waiters,” he said. “It is your responsibility and mine to wait on tables and put food on tables. I’m not talking physical sustenance; I’m talking about spiritual sustenance. The challenge that God has for every one of us is to put spiritual food on the table that will enable the people of God to grow up to be the people they ought to be.”
Doug Richey, pastor, Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, finished his term as president, as Doug Shivers, pastor, Boulevard Baptist Church, Springfield, moves up to begin planning the 2010 conference in Springfield. Matt Marrs, pastor, Northland Baptist Church, Kansas City, is president-elect. John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield, and Missouri Baptist Convention first vice president, nominated Micah Fries, pastor, Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church, St. Joseph to serve as treasurer for 2010 (and president for the 2012 conference). He was approved by a vote of the body.
“I would like to say thank you to everyone who made the conference possible,” Richey said. “I was very impressed with the staff we have in the Baptist Building. They are great to work with and are very talented.
“The conference exceeded my expectations. I knew each of the speakers would do a wonderful job, but I didn’t expect the messages to dovetail as beautifully as they did. I was also pleased that the panel discussion proved helpful for so many.”