Pastors' Conference to spotlight Christ, not fads

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) -- Though this year's Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference will feature a diverse array of speakers -- in terms of both race and age -- conference president William Rice hopes they won't be the gathering's focus.

Instead, he hopes pastors will turn their attention to Jesus, setting the stage for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting's emphasis on prayer and awakening. Hence the theme of this year's Pastors' Conference: "He Must Increase."

"In ministry, we get distracted by so many things," said Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla. "And some of those are good things," like methodologies, leadership, strategies and worship styles.

"All of those have their place," Rice said. "... But at the end of the day, what we need most of all is this movement which focuses upon Christ -- His glory, the mission to make Him known among the nations and in our own country."

The June 14-15 Pastors' Conference will feature preaching, worship and prayer to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. The sessions at the Greater Columbus Convention Center will be held prior to the SBC's June 16-17 annual meeting there.

"We really wanted to have guys who were strong preachers and teachers of the Word," Rice said of the anticipated conference speakers. "My focus wasn't the latest methodological fad or the latest gimmick that somebody has, but guys that are going to preach from the Word."

Speakers for Sunday evening (June 14) at the Pastors' Conference will include Dean Fulks, pastor of LifePoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, and Russell Moore, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Monday morning (June 15) will feature messages from Vance Pittman, pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas; Paul David Tripp, executive director of the Association of Biblical Counselors' Center for Pastoral Life and Care; and David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.

Monday afternoon speakers will include Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; H.B. Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Steve Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

Monday evening speakers will include J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Ill.; and David Platt, president of the SBC's International Mission Board.

Worship will be led by Christian recording artist Travis Cottrell, Harvest Bible Chapel's Vertical Church Band and Calvary Baptist Church's worship team.

The Pastors' Conference offering will go to the Stowe Mission, an outreach of the Metro Columbus Baptist Association that seeks to meet physical and spiritual needs in inner city Columbus.

This year's leadership team, which includes Jeremy Westbrook, pastor of Living Hope Church in Marysville, Ohio, as vice president and Drew Landry, pastor of Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., as treasurer, hopes the conference will refresh pastors and their families.

"Our prayer is that every single pastor [who attends] would really be strengthened and encouraged, and that God would speak to them," Rice said.

The Pastors' Conference is free and requires no registration. To learn more about this year's schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net. For a schedule, click here.

Child care for children ages birth through 12 years will be offered during all Pastors' Conference sessions. Children ages 4-12 may register for a conference provided by Children's Conferences International. Register at www.childrensconferences.com.

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief childcare volunteers will offer childcare for newborns through age 5 during the Pastors' Conference.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.
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