ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida
pastor Mac Brunson urged Southern Baptists to refocus on the preeminence of
“I’m afraid that in our
convention and across the ministry today, we are far better preachers at
battling one another, than we are at battling our enemy,” Satan, Mac Brunson,
pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., said in the annual
convention sermon, delivered to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting
in Orlando, Fla.
Basing his message on John
3, Brunson exhorted Southern Baptist ministers to proclaim the preeminence of
Jesus Christ in their lives and preaching and in relying on God’s resources.
Observing that Jesus’
disciples had become jealous and agitated with John the Baptist, who was also baptizing
in the Jordon River, Brunson asserted that it was “all because they had begun
to focus on themselves, instead of the preeminence of Jesus Christ.”
Brunson noted a study
conducted years ago by former seminary professor Ken Chafin found a high rate
of bitterness and resentment among pastors then. “That’s what was happening
with the disciples,” Brunson explained, noting that Chafin’s survey found three
common attitudes: they tended toward being negative, were highly competitive
and didn’t like other preachers.
Recalling a recent
conversation with a leading evangelist, Brunson said that the preacher charged
that on Monday mornings at associational offices, the average pastor would
rather hear that a fellow pastor had to resign than to hear that the Spirit of
God had fallen upon his congregation and many were being saved.
“There is something
happening among pastors today that absolutely has the watching world astounded,
the devil laughing, and our Almighty God grieving,” he asserted.
To rectify this condition,
Brunson emphasized a need for preachers to recognize that any success they have
in the ministry is because God gave it.
“I am saved solely because
of God’s grace. I have received his salvation,” he said, reminding preachers
that “any church growth you have is an act of the sovereign God. You receive
Calling the people of his
congregation “a gift from God” that he has received only because of God’s
goodness, he asked, “Do you realize, pastor, you are a gift to that
congregation … (and) that congregation is a gift to you?
“Now, some may want to
exchange gifts,” he quipped. “But that’s a different sermon for another time.”
He reminded pastors they are
first servants, referring to 1 Corinthians 3. “If you have been ordained to the
gospel ministry, let me let you in on something, you’re just a preacher,” he
“You may be a denominational official, … but you’re just a
preacher. You may have degrees hanging down your walls like curtains in a
mansion, but you’re just a preacher. And, there’s nothing better in all the
world than that.”
Brunson also underscored a
need for ministers to have a proper perspective of their position, pointing out
John the Baptist understood that Jesus was the bridegroom, and he was “just the
best man, a friend of the bridegroom.”
Drawing out the comparison,
Brunson observed that the best man customarily brings the bride down the aisle
and places her hand in the groom’s hand. Like John, he explained, ministers
must realize that all they are called to do is “put their hands in the
“That’s what will bring joy
in your ministry,” he said.
Finally, in emphasizing the
preeminence of God’s resources, Brunson observed that the passage speaks of “an
actual hell where people are going to go,” but it also declares: “We have a
Savior who has everything necessary in those nail-scared hands to save this
world. That must be our focus.”
Do Southern Baptists ever
stop and hear the cries of those who are lost and “on a fast train to an
eternal hell?” he wondered.
Retelling a story about a
church near Dachau, a concentration camp in Germany, which decided to sing
louder to drown out the whistles of passing trains and cries of thousands of
Jews heading for death camps, Brunson lamented, “Sometimes we get so religious,
we shut out the voice of not only the Holy Spirit, but also the cries of lost.
“We don’t need just a
resurgence or a revival. We have got to get back and refocus on preeminence of
Jesus Christ,” Brunson concluded.