In a rapidly shifting culture, wisdom calls us to evaluate an organization’s current effectiveness and continued usefulness. Under this guidance, I strongly advocate for the N.C. Baptist Pastors’ Conference (NCPC) and its much-needed ministry role in these last days.
In Luke 24, two disciples made their way to Emmaus, disheartened that their ministry goals had not materialized. At this point in their spiritual journey, the solution was not a motivational speech or lesson in pop culture, but a personal encounter with the risen Savior.
The first reason for the existence of the NCPC is to provide pastors encouragement from the Savior, just as Jesus did with the disciples in Luke 24:24. In these trying times, we could easily focus on the circumstances around us rather than the Savior who longs to fellowship with us. I must confess that too often, just like these Emmaus travelers, my heart becomes slow to believe all that the scriptures promise. I need a conference that focuses not on politics, personalities or preferences, but instead magnifies the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
A second purpose of the NCPC is sound exposition from the scriptures. Cute stories and trite expressions are not sharper than any two-edged sword; thus the Pastors’ Conference should hold high the inerrant Word of an all-powerful God. Only the Word of God gives life, and our Pastors’ Conference should be centered on the life-giving words of the Bible. Since God’s Word is forever settled in heaven, the foundation of any heaven-blessed venture on earth will be the timeless truths of scripture.
Thirdly, the Pastors’ Conference should facilitate an encounter with the Spirit. The disciples in Luke 24 were touched by the exposition of scripture, not just intellectually, but in their hearts. This happens when the Spirit of God illuminates the Word of God to the child of God – always a glorious experience.
One’s physical health can be no better than the condition of one’s heart. This reality has a spiritual parallel, especially for pastors. A pastors’ conference should not simply be an intellectual retreat, but rather a spiritual revival. Jesus’ road trip companions remarked, “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scripture?” (Luke 24:32). My heart longs for a conference where the Holy Spirit of God transforms the hearts of those who attend. As the old song says, “All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down.”
The final function of the NCPC is to equip for service every pastor who attends. In Luke 24:32-33, these disciples, after having their hearts stirred, returned to work energized and motivated to do the task to which they had been called. I believe our Pastors’ Conference should kindle such a fire in the lives of our pastors that burns on months after the meetings conclude. May our Pastors’ Conference be grounded in scripture, bathed in prayer and covered in practicality so our pastors leave refreshed, recharged and refocused on the mission of our high calling in Christ.
The greatest need of our world and our N.C. Baptist pastors is to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. My prayer for the 2023 NCPC is that pastors would leave saying, “Did not our hearts burn within us as they opened to us the scriptures?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Neal Jackson is pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett and New Life Bible Church in Sanford. He will be nominated for president of the 2023 N.C. Baptist Pastors’ Conference.)