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Lead in holiness, evangelism, service, pastors urged
Baptist Press
June 14, 2011
12 MIN READ TIME

Lead in holiness, evangelism, service, pastors urged

Lead in holiness, evangelism, service, pastors urged
Baptist Press
June 14, 2011

PHOENIX – Pastors must take the lead in personal holiness,

evangelism and service to others if Southern Baptist churches are to be

effective in reaching the world for Christ, speakers said at the 2011 Southern

Baptist Pastors’ Conference in its first two sessions June 12-13.

The annual conference preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting

was held this year at the Phoenix Convention Center and focused on the theme,

“Aspire: Yearning to Join God’s Kingdom Activity.”

Speakers in the Sunday evening and Monday morning sessions included:

Peter Ndhlovu

Speaking from his experience of planting churches on Africa,

Peter Ndhlovu, bishop of the Bible Gospel Church in Zambia, challenged attendees to join him in reaching the

nations with the Gospel of Christ.

Ndhlovu, whose church has planted 286 churches in 13 African countries,

preached from Matthew 24:12-14, urging pastors to fulfill the purpose God has

called the church to accomplish – making disciples of all the nations.

“We have a mission, and we have to accomplish it,” Ndhlovu said. “We have to do

it; now is the time, not tomorrow. We have no time to play games. We have no

time to play church. We have to fulfill that which God has sent us to do.”

That mission, Ndhlovu noted, is the heartbeat of the church. He added that the Kingdom of God is bigger than individual denominations, and it is

time to set aside differences and focus on the purpose of accomplishing the

Great Commission.

“I believe that if together we can bury our denomination boundaries, we can

bury our doctrinal problem, we can only concentrate on the Kingdom, we can win

this world for Jesus because He’s about to come,” Ndhlovu said. “Today is the

time. We need to declare the message of hope. People need somebody to preach

the Word.”

Bob Pitman

Church planting is at the heart of Southern Baptist missions

today, and that endeavor begins with individual churches, said Bob Pitman,

longtime preacher and evangelist from Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Pitman tied that endeavor directly to the leadership of pastors.

“Denominations do not plant churches,” Pitman said. “Churches plant churches,

and churches that plant churches are churches that are led to plant churches by

their pastors.”

A major part of that leadership is preaching, Pitman said. Speaking from 2

Corinthians 4:1-5, Pitman pointed to the pastor’s mandate to preach.

“We do not have to apologize for being preachers, because that is our foremost

and primary responsibility,” Pitman said. “When God calls you to be a pastor,

He calls you to be a preacher.”

Pitman called on pastors to preach the Gospel as servant leaders with pure

motives.

“God is not interested in any personal agendas that we may push,” he said.

“God

is not impressed as we climb the ladder in the denomination. The only thing

that really impresses God is when we live for Jesus’ sake.”

Johnny Hunt

Pastors must first get their own lives in order and live “the Kingdom life”

before they can hope to influence the lives of their church members, Johnny

Hunt, immediate past president of the SBC,

said in his Sunday evening address.

Photo by Bill Bangham

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaks during the evening session of the 2011 SBC Pastors’ Conference June 12 at the

Phoenix Convention Center. The two-day conference preceded the Southern

Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 14-15 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said that only when pastors have their lives

properly ordered will the Southern Baptist Convention be successful in reaching

people for Christ.

“We as the Southern Baptist Convention have had a blessed past,” Hunt said.

“But I personally sense that God desires to be with us in a more mighty way in

the present and in the future if we are to touch this nation, which we’re not

touching as we ought, and the nations of the world.”

To achieve this “Kingdom life,” Hunt pointed to the Apostle Paul’s example in 1

Corinthians 16. First and foremost, Hunt said Paul emulated the Kingdom life by

being generous with his possessions.

“We need as much, if not more, emulation as we have exhortation,” Hunt said.

“We’ve learned how to say it; we’ve just got to learn how to do it. And we’ve

got to do it by example and giving the people a way to follow.”

Hunt challenged pastors to give liberally and to be willing to go to the places

where God directed them. He also encouraged pastors to be willing to serve as

mentors to younger pastors and to glorify Jesus Christ in all they do.

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts, senior pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, said Christianity is declining in the West while the

developing world “is exploding” with a spiritual awakening. The church’s

challenge is “figuring out how to be a part of that.”

“I don’t want to just hear what He is doing in China and hear what He’s doing

in India and hear what He’s doing in the Congo and hear what He’s doing with

college students in Iran I want to be a part of seeing God doing something

massive here,” Roberts said. “I don’t want to miss out on that.”

Reading from Colossians 4:2-6, in which Paul pleads for

prayer so the Gospel may be preached and calls on his readers to walk in

wisdom, Roberts said with global technology the Great Commission could be

fulfilled in 10 years.

To do that, Roberts said several things are essential. Christians must “seize

an open world,” must connect with the global church and must be willing to

befriend Muslims. For example, he told of his budding friendship with the imam

of the largest mosque in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“I love that man,” Roberts said. “I want him to know Jesus and I’m not going to

give up.”

Paul Gotthardt

As he was in the midst of planting a church in Las Vegas, Paul Gotthardt, lead and founding pastor of Life Baptist Church there, told how God laid it upon his heart to plant

another church with a focus on the homeless. He said the area’s homeless

population was excited to have a church of their own.

Over the next two years, this church plant saw 13 come to faith in Christ, a number

of the homeless reunited with their families, and several others were able to

get into a local mission outreach program. And then, just as quickly as God

provided the opportunity, He suddenly ended it with the police clearing out the

people and bulldozing the area.

“I thought at the time, ‘Man, that was a great opportunity.’ But when I look

back right now, I see it was a favorable season,” Gotthardt said. “It was open

for just a specific period of time. It was a kairos moment. It was something

that in that moment as I was in prayer with God, that God helped me to see a

need and helped my heart to be alert.”

Speaking from Ephesians 5:15-16, Gotthardt said it’s important to be positioned

correctly in ministry to be effective for Kingdom activity. Once those

ministries are positioned, he noted that the best way to accomplish this is to

walk in wisdom and make the most of one’s time.

“Our walk is how we live from day-to-day,” Gotthardt said. “We are to remain

alert. We are not to be foolish and self-centered, but we are to walk as wise

people who are acknowledging God. Whenever we’re in the habit of remaining

alert, and we’re not living for self but we are acknowledging God in His

purposes, we are strategically positioned at that moment to buy back some time

for God and his purposes.”

Darrin Patrick

Biblical maturity leads to biblical mission and to aspirations to share the

Gospel with others, according to Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey

church in St. Louis, Mo., and vice president of the Acts 29 church planting

network.

“God must work in us if he is to work through us. The preparation, the work,

the battle is in the soil of your heart. It is a war for control.”

Preaching from Galatians 5:16-26, Patrick explained Paul’s use of fruit as a metaphor

for how spiritual growth takes place. Fruit, Patrick said, grows holistically,

internally, gradually and communally.

“You have to be a person that is willing to deal with their own sin as they are

dealing with the sin of others,” Patrick said. “Your sin is a bigger deal than

their sin. You should be more worried about your sin than that sin.”

Patrick said that only when pastors are more concerned about their own sin can

they deal appropriately with the sin of others.

“When God is doing something in you, you cannot not tell somebody about it,”

Patrick said. “God must be at work in us if He is to work through us.”

Bartholomew Orr

Just as dropped phone calls result from a lost connection to a service

provider, so “drops” in Christian ministry result from a lost connection to

God, Bartholomew Orr, senior pastor of Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, Miss., said.

“Too many pastors in too many churches have lost contact with the Master,” Orr

said. “They’re still in business, but they’re not doing His business: His

gospel is not being preached and His truths are not being proclaimed.”

In a sermon from Colossians 1:24-29, Orr said that pastors drop connection with

God for three main reasons: “(inadvertent) hang-ups,” “dead spots” and “shut-downs.”

Hang-ups happen when the preacher forgets that he is only a servant of God,

that he possesses God’s Word and that the cost of faithful ministry is

suffering, Orr said.

Dead-spots happened, according to Orr, when the preacher is not in God’s will –

and God’s will for the pastor is to preach, warn and teach. Preaching Christ

crucified is the central message of the church, and that includes warning

listeners about God’s wrath and then teaching them the implications of this

message.

Shut-downs occur from an absence of power, Orr said. Just as a cell phone needs

to maintain a charge from a power source, so the pastor’s power comes from a

source. Orr explained that the only way for a cell phone to hold a charge

consistently is to remain plugged into the power source. Such is the case for

pastor as well.

“The power is not from us, but the power is from God Almighty,” Orr said. Just

stay plugged in.”

Greg Matte

Preaching on Jesus’ miracle of water made to wine from John 2, Greg Matte urged

pastors to be servants drawing on God’s power to turn proverbial water in their

ministries to wine. Matte is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Houston.

Noting the crisis at the Cana wedding celebration when the wine ran out, Matte

emphasized that servants, already tired from their duties, were tasked with the

burden of filling six stone jars – each holding 20 to 30 gallons.

Following Mary’s command to “do whatever he tells you,” the servants filled the

water to the brim.

“When God asks you to do something, when Jesus asks you to do something, do you

do 51 percent, or do you fill it to the brim?” Matte asked. He warned pastors

against a 75-percent effort in their ministry when such effort can often carry

them on their talent or giftedness.

In filling it to the brim, “your heart for God will shrink” if the pastor in

his weariness doesn’t rely on God to do the filling. Rely on God, Matte said,

and He will enlarge the pastor’s heart.

“Church planter, you’ll never have enough money,” Matte said. “It will always

feel like water. You walk with God. Missionary, it will always feel like water.

You walk with God. Pastor, the sermon should always feel like you don’t have

enough. You walk with God. Walk with God, and Jesus Christ will change water

into wine and you’ll look back and go ‘Wow, look at what God’s done. He’s done

something I could not have done. He’s brought the change.’”

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Tim Ellsworth, with reporting by Jerry Pierce, T.

Patrick Hudson, Frank Michael McCormack and Aaron Hanbury.)