Pastors elected new officers on Monday afternoon for the 2022 SBC Pastors’ conference while also being challenged with messages on unity, humility and gospel focus — with all three speakers echoing the theme “Together On Mission.”
Matt Henslee, senior pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church, Mayhill, New Mexico, was elected president of the Pastors’ Conference. Cam Triggs, pastor of Grace Alive Church, Orlando, Florida, was elected vice president and Sam Greer, pastor of Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee, was elected treasurer.
The afternoon also featured messages from Kevin Smith, executive director of Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware; Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Church, Las Vegas, Nevada; and David Jeremiah, senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, California.
Preaching from Ephesians 4, Smith focused his message on how working together for the gospel takes effort — and help from the Holy Spirit.
Relationships in the church are too often torn apart by gossip and jealousy and a hunger for power. Christians are becoming more and more known for the same things as unbelievers, Smith said. Many believers “don’t look any different than the rest of the world,” he said. “What good is the salt if it has lost its saltiness?”
With declining baptisms and growing division throughout the convention, Smith said the answer has always been God, but we have to first acknowledge we have a problem.
“You can’t get help if you don’t acknowledge you need help,” he said. “God is able to help but He won’t help those who are unrepentant, unwilling to repent…Humble repentance is required.”
Politics also continue to divide believers in Christ who don’t take the time to listen to one another.
There are four inerrantists running for president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a presidential election isn’t going to fix what’s wrong with us,” Smith said. “The presidential election does not necessitate repentance. A presidential election does not necessitate humility before the living Lord of the church.”
“We’ve got to be more honest and stop acting like our politics equals God’s politics,” he said, noting we have to stop assuming the worst in others.
Pitman began his message with a word of “discouragement,” noting that all churches are going to die. All churches have a shelf life.
“Every church Paul planted is dead,” said Pitman, calling out pastors who have wrapped their identity in the success of their churches. “Now today the church at Ephesus is a pile of rocks.”
Pitman followed up with, “Can I give you some good news? The kingdom of God is alive and well.”
He shared “three truths.” First, when God births a church, it’s always about something bigger. Second, when God births a church, he invites us to join in His kingdom activity. Third, when God births a church, it’s for His glory, not ours.
Christians should be emboldened to share the gospel more than ever, he said, because we are living in a time when more people are coming to Christ today around the world than at any other time. But we must remember, he noted, “It’s not about growing our church, it’s about expanding His kingdom.”
“God does not need the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said. “The Southern Baptist Convention needs God.” He closed his message by pointing out that if we don’t seek the Kingdom, He will use somebody else.
No matter what was going on in evangelist Billy Graham’s life when he was alive, Pastor Jeremiah said, Graham kept the focus on preaching the gospel.
The famous evangelist was a servant of the gospel, Jeremiah said, and “no matter what, he preached the gospel.” While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down for many, it didn’t stop God’s work in people’s lives. At the height of the crisis, Jeremiah said, “the main thing started to become the main thing.”
“Sometimes we have to take a page out of the Billy Graham Book and preach the gospel like never before,” said Jeremiah preaching his message from Colossians 1. And we need to strive to be more like Paul as well, he said.
“If you were to get Paul in a corner, he would say I’m a preacher. I preach the gospel,” Jeremiah said.
“It is always important for us to be coming back to the simplicity of Jesus Christ…I know we’re not all called to be a vocational preacher, but we are all called to preach the gospel.”