Kevin Ezell, new president
of the North American Mission Board, urged pastors not to isolate or insulate
themselves from the pains of people, no matter how large or small their church.
Preaching at the annual
pastors’ conference, held this year for the first time at the same site as the
annual Convention sessions, Ezell said the grief that Christians at Ephesus in
Acts 20 declared at the Apostle Paul’s leaving them demonstrated he was
intimately involved in their lives.
Kevin Ezell, elected
Sept. 14 by a split vote of trustees, was transparent and personable as he
reminded pastors “most will not be judged by how we arrived but by how we
Even though pastors
sometimes “pour your life into people and sometimes they respond and sometimes
nothing happens” and even though ”sometimes you invest and invest and invest
and there is nothing there … we never get to the point where we insulate
ourselves from the cares of people.”
Paul told his disciples they
were all going to Jerusalem and even though he warned them “it’s going to get
ugly” that didn’t change their perspective. Too often that is unlike the
response of American Christians, he said. “We have become so spoiled.”
The only unanimous vote
Ezell ever has received was the 7-0 call to his first church, he said. “We have
a comfort zone and we like it and we typically stay in it.”
Ezell and his wife have six
children, including three adopted from three different nations. Orphanage
officials warned Ezell to be careful when he took his newly adopted 11-year-old
to the hotel because J.M. had never felt hot water. The orphanage had none.
Of course, after Ezell
demonstrated the controls for J.M.’s first hot water shower, the boy stayed in
there for 45 minutes and declared it “wonderful.”
“Most 11-year-olds in
America want an IPod, he just wants warm water,” Ezell said. “
Most of us forget where
we’ve come from.”
For weeks J.M. woke Ezell
with the promise that “I will be a good son for you today.”
“If only every believer would wake up and go to bed every
night with the same intent as we bow our knees to pray and say ‘God, I will be
a good son for you, I will be a good daughter for you and will do my best to
please you every day and night.’”
Ezell asked pastors to
consider what people will remember when they look at their ministries. He said
he has done many funerals during his ministry and it is easier to personalize
the funeral of a deceased whom he knows. He needs more input from a distant
So he asks some questions to
be able to relate the personality of the deceased. When one family member said
of his mother, “She was the meanest woman I know,” Ezell said, “That’s not
going to work.”
“It is amazing how people
can live 80 years and their life is summarized in just a few seconds,” he said.
“Take a stop watch and time the things you really value. What difference will
it make that you were really here?”
Call to personal holiness
A late substitute for Johnny
Hunt who was trying to trim his schedule, frequent pastor’s conference speaker
Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., called pastors
to personal holiness.
Preaching from Galatians 5
Wilton spoke frankly and said, “Young pastors aren’t lining up to stand beside
us because of our conduct.”
He lamented the conduct of
pastors that makes secular headlines and tells the world they do not believe
what they have preached. “We can meet until the cows come home,” he said, “but
unless we ask God to take hold of our hearts and change us from inside out …
you will not be able to do the things that you imagine you can do.”
He said legalism has “crept
into the ranks of our Southern Baptist denomination” and that “we have become a
denomination of boasters and braggers and preachers who stand up in
From this chapter Wilton
said for those who claim to love Christ, there will be revealing sin, releasing
love, and reflecting results.
“Fewer and fewer people want to come to church because they
watch the behavior of our people,” Wilton said.
They see the sexual sin, the
worship sin and the character sin.
He said just the previous
day another pastor in his hometown fell to sexual sin. “Is there someone here
today committing adultery?” he asked as he peered with piercing eyes over the
crowd. “Are you that man?”
While God says such sinners
will not inherit the Kingdom, Wilton says Baptists have “become powder puffs in
the pulpit because we don’t believe it.”
Instead of preaching and
living with boldness, Wilton said, “We have another convention and write
another ding dong resolution about the Great Commission.”
“One reason so many people
don’t want to come hear people like you and me is because we behave like
dipsticks,” he said. “We’ve cultivated a people who come not to hear what God
wants them to hear but what they want to hear.”
He emphasized that only a
pastor’s personal holiness, of the kind that asks, “Lord what is it that You
would say to me,” and “Father how can we lead those young people,” will inspire
and lead others to new life.
“The role of evangelism is
not complete until the evangelized become evangelists,” he said. “We have to
understand that the fundamental responsibility of the evangelist is to be holy
because God is holy.”
Pastor’s Conference officers
Lee Pigg Jr. was elected as
pastor’s conference president-elect, which means he will take the helm in 2012.
He is pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe.
Scott Faw was elected vice
president and Dale Robertson was elected treasurer for the 19th time.
This year’s president-elect Bobby
Blanton, assumes the role of president for 2011’s conference. Blanton is
president of the Board of Directors for the Baptist State Convention of North
Carolina and pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville.