2016 SBC Pastors' Conference: 'Live this!'
ST. LOUIS (BP) -- John Meador believes some pastors -- and subsequently their congregations -- have departed from the 2 Timothy 4:5-6 mandate, developing a "come and see" method for sharing the Gospel instead of "go and tell."
Meador, the president of the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference, said speakers at the June conference will dissect the New Testament obligation and exhort pastors to lead by example. The pastors' conference, with the theme 'Live this!,' will meet June 12-13 at the America's Center in St. Louis, Mo., prior to the SBC annual meeting.
"The main thing is for that text to be burned on their heart," Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, said in a telephone interview with the TEXAN. "That's the New Testament mandate. I want everyone to be able to share."
In 2 Timothy 4:5-6, the verse says, "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come."
Pastors and churches have spent the last three decades moving away from a direct Gospel conversation with the lost, Meador noted. While many theories for the shift have been proffered, he suspects Christians began to believe people didn't want to talk about spiritual things and drifted from personal engagement with others about the Gospel.
Meador said the situation is so dire in that some Christian parents do not even know how to share the Gospel with their own children. But as pastors set the example of sharing the Gospel in their personal lives their congregations will follow suit.
The speakers for the event, Meador noted, come from ministries and churches of all sizes from across the nation. Meador has organized the pastors' conference as a mix of single speakers and a breakout session created to facilitate discussion among pastors of similar-sized churches. Six of the 11 pastors invited have confirmed they will preach at the conference.
James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, will preach Sunday evening (June 12) on "But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship...," drawing from his own experience in overcoming difficulties.
Monday morning (June 13) will highlight "... do the work of an evangelist ..." with speakers David Platt, president Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board, and Byron McWilliams, pastor First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas.
Jack Graham, pastor Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, will address "... fulfill your ministry ..." on Monday afternoon. Stetzer will unveil LifeWay's latest research studying the question of what drives the most evangelistic churches.
Following Graham and Stetzer, the conference will break into smaller groups based on church size to give pastors an opportunity to discuss with panelists and their peers methods for enhancing evangelistic efforts in their communities.
Monday evening Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., will address verse 6, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come." Meador asked Scroggins, the pastor of a multi-generational and multi-ethnic congregation, to talk about "passing the baton" of evangelism to the next generation of pastors.
Meador is hoping to draw Millennial pastors to the conference to exhort them to press on. Social media will be used regularly to provide information and updates about the conference, which can be found on Twitter at @SBCPastorsConf, Facebook at facebook.com/SBCPastorsConference, and Instagram at SBCPASTORSCONF. The conference website, www.sbcpc.net, should be accessible by mid-February.
Meador has worked closely with SBC President Ronnie Floyd to ensure the pastors' conference and annual meeting share a unified message. He encourages pastors and church members to arrive early to participate in Crossover St. Louis on June 11, a citywide evangelism effort organized by the North American Mission Board and Missouri Baptist Convention.