BRANSON – Sixty-five Missouri Baptist pastors and their families, who serve in churches that have an average worship attendance of 125 or less, gathered at Skyline Baptist Church, Branson, for the MB125 Pastors’ Conference, June 22-25.
For three days, they were encouraged by fellowship, worship and inspiring messages from keynote speakers, Chuck and Rhonda Kelley and Micah Fries. Dr. Kelley serves as president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He encouraged the gathered ministers, revealing that 67% of SBC churches have 100 or less, and 89% of SBC churches have 250 or less. “Small truly is the SBC big.” In Missouri 89% of churches average 125 or less in worship attendance. The average attendance of the churches represented at the conference this year was 55. Dr. Kelley also indicated that while churches with more than a 1,000 contribute $85.8 million to the Cooperative Program, churches with 250 or less contribute nearly $196 million. “Smaller churches drive CP.”
Micah Fries, former Vice President of LifeWay Research and now pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., challenged pastors to develop leaders so that they can help their congregation accomplish the Great Commission more effectively. He preached on Ephesians 4:11-16: “God gave the church pastors to equip the saints for service. When pastors see this as their ministry, the body is built up and Jesus is glorified.”
The theme this year was “Running the Race to Win.” Gary Mathes, Church Revitalization specialist for the Missouri Baptist Convention states, “In 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul cheered on the believers to run in such a way as to win. We desired that this conference would be a place where pastors could be encouraged to stay in the race and to realize that God has promised an unfading crown of glory for those who finish well.”
The MB125 Pastors’ Conference is designed to minister to the whole family. Pastors’ wives were able to enjoy breakout sessions while their children and youth were served by a mission team from Crossroads Baptist Association led by Mark and Bonnie Carter of Carpenter St. Baptist Church, Moberly. Participants were led in worship by Mark Mathes, worship pastor of Crossway Baptist Church in Springfield. Mathes’ family also ministered through a concert at the Friday evening banquet.
James Locke, pastor of First Baptist Church, Holden appreciated that MB125 is a conference their children can attend and enjoy. “Our kids had a blast with the children’s ministry team. I appreciated that the staff of the MBC in attendance took the time to personally speak to us. They were genuinely interested in our lives and ministry. That just affirmed to us that the MBC does really care about us and our church.”
James Kerns, pastor of Copeland Baptist Church, St. Joseph came with his wife Leesa and felt the conference was both convicting and refreshing. “This was our first year that we were able to go to the MB125 and it lived up to everything we expected it to be and then some. Dr. Chuck Kelley and Micah Fries personally challenged me in so many areas of my ministry.”
David Van Bebber, pastor of First Baptist Church, Buffalo believed the conference be a value to any pastor, “I could not encourage pastors of small churches in Missouri enough to go to this conference. It was helpful in encouraging me, affirming my calling, and it was a time of fellowship and rest.”
Rick Sharp, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Everton said, “The MB125 to me is a time of encouragement, relaxation and teaching. The MBC does a wonderful job on this event. The accommodations are top notch and the food is great. One of the things that is very helpful is the added free time with family. It may be some of the only vacation many will get.”