Pastors' Conference to spotlight evangelism

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference president John Meador didn't choose the "Live This!" theme of this year's sessions in St. Louis.

He said it was burned on his heart several years ago as God convinced him through study of 2 Timothy 4:5-6 that he had not been leading his church in evangelism and that he -- along with fellow pastors -- needed to heed Scripture's call to "do the work of an evangelist."

Naturally, when he was elected Pastors' Conference president, that passage became the theme Scripture for the June 12-13 gathering. It reads in full, "But as for you, be serious about everything, 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 for my departure is close."

Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, said he does "not believe pastors across America understand those verses."

"I don't think I understood them until a few years ago," Meador said, when "God convicted me that ... I had not been doing that for close to 30 years. I had personally practiced [evangelism], but I hadn't equipped our people."

So Meador trained more than 600 adults to share the Gospel over the past two years, with results he called "invigorating." He hopes ministers leave this year's conference with a similar drive to equip their congregations and with similar powerful results to follow.

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

Attendees "will walk out with a very clear understanding" of the theme passage, Meador said.

Speakers for Sunday evening (June 12) at the Pastors' Conference will include Noah Oldham, pastor of August Gate Church in St. Louis; and James MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Ill.

Monday morning (June 13) will feature messages from David Platt, president of the International Mission Board; and Byron McWilliams, pastor of First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas.

Monday afternoon speakers will include Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

In a departure from previous Pastors' Conference schedules, the Monday afternoon session will dismiss early so attendees can disperse to five breakout sessions geared toward pastors of different size churches. Each breakout will feature a question and answer period with one keynote speaker and several other leaders on how to mobilize church members to share the Gospel with their communities.

Monday evening speakers will include Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.

Worship will be led by the Passion worship band; Andy Johnson, worship pastor at First Baptist Euless; and Tim Whedbee, worship pastor at Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, Texas.

The Pastors' Conference offering will go to a church in St. Louis to be announced.

This year's leadership team, which includes Neil Franks, pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson, Mo., as vice president and Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist, as treasurer, hopes pastors from the Millennial generation will join their older counterparts at the conference. They believe the Passion worship band and extensive use of social media in Pastors' Conference promotion will help Millennials connect.

"I don't think anybody can deny that we are at an all-time low in evangelism," Meador said. "I don't think anyone can deny that no one is going to change this unless that pastor does. And because of those truths, I think this Pastors' Conference is critical and crucial."

The Pastors' Conference is free and requires no registration. To learn more about this year's schedule, sponsors and theme, visit sbcpc.net. You can also access information about the conference on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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 child care 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. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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