The 2017 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix is expected to highlight the contributions of the convention’s smaller churches and celebrate the diverse landscape that makes up the SBC. To that end, Pastors’ Conference officers are seeking nominations for event speakers who represent these churches.
Photo by Matt Miller
Pastor and former NFL linebacker Derwin Gray encouraged pastors to trust God to do the impossible during the 2016 Pastors' Conference on Monday, June 13 in St. Louis.
To help fill the slate of preachers for the conference, the leadership team is inviting Southern Baptists to recommend expository preachers for the event. The online nomination process opens Sept. 12 at sbcpc2017.com. Nominations can be made through Sept. 30.
Dave Miller, an Iowa pastor and president of the 2017 Pastors’ Conference, made the announcement on the SBC Voices blog Sept. 7.
“We are operating from two strong convictions,” Miller, who also is editor of SBC Voices, said in written comments to Baptist Press. “First, we believe that the Bible is enough. Accurately and powerfully preached, a Pastors’ Conference focused on the word of God will be a rich blessing to all who attend.”
“And second, we believe that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of qualified preachers in average Southern Baptist churches who can encourage and challenge us from the inerrant, vibrant word of God,” Miller said. “Our task now is to find the right 12 men.”
Nominees should be the pastor of a Southern Baptist church with about “500 or less in average attendance” who has not preached at the annual meeting in the past five years. Miller noted on his blog, “We may stray a little higher if we decide to – these are guidelines, not rules. But we are coming from the belief that there are a lot of very good preachers out there, worth listening to, in average SBC churches.”
The leadership team encourages nominations representing the ethnic and geographic diversity of the SBC. To aid in the selection process, nominators should include links where sermons may be viewed online. If online sermons are not available, sermons may be submitted via email through Google Docs.
The selected preachers will also participate in a preaching colloquium held at a Southern Baptist seminary early in 2017 to focus on expository preaching of Philippians. The theme for the 2017 Conference is “Above Every Name” (Philippians 2:9). Through the four Pastors’ Conference sessions, pastors will preach through the book of Philippians in 12 expository messages.
“We want to work together as a team this year, not just 12 individual speakers,” Miller, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, said.
A one-year experiment
The idea of electing a smaller church pastor to lead the Pastors’ Conference is something Miller and his friends have discussed for years. The group convinced Miller to run for Pastors’ Conference president on an agenda focused squarely on God’s Word. Miller used the SBC Voices blog to get the word out about the expository preaching focus and the Pastors’ Conference attendees responded by electing him president.
Miller is quick to point out that this is meant as a one-year opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of smaller churches. They have no designs on having a small church pastor lead every year.
“We wanted to do a conference that focuses on biblical preaching and worship and not focused on who is doing the biblical preaching,” Miller said. “We are trying this one year, we are not trying to ‘take over’ the Pastors’ Conference.”
His candidacy and election was not meant as protest or critique of large churches, Miller noted.
“Some small church movements have been distinctively anti-big church,” Miller said. “We are not doing that. We aren’t saying anything bad about large churches. We just want to give [smaller church pastors] a chance.”
If selected as a speaker, preachers are asked to attend the Pastors’ Conference in its entirety for the mutual support and encouragement of attendees and speakers.