The 2023 Mississippi Baptist Preaching Conference provided in-depth Bible study with ministerial growth and fellowship, as participants studied and were equipped to preach and teach from the Gospel of John.
“The professors and I decide which book is taught,” noted John Pace, director of the sponsoring leadership department for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. “We talk about it, and we try to alternate between Old Testament and New Testament. We did John this year, so we’ll want to do Old Testament next year.
“Our younger guys really love the historical books.”
Topics and presenters for the conference included:
— Background and context of the Gospel of John: Joseph Bird, chair, department of Christian ministries and biblical studies and assistant professor of religion at William Carey University, Hattiesburg.
— Theological themes and discussion of the Gospel of John: Wayne Van Horn, dean, School of Christian Studies and the Arts and professor of Christian studies and philosophy at Mississippi College, Clinton.
— Preaching and teaching ideas of the Gospel of John: Ronald Meeks, chair and professor of biblical studies and director of church relations and ministerial recruiting at Blue Mountain Christian University, Blue Mountain.
“The preaching conference is a blessing to pastors,” Meeks noted. “There are three things it does. One, it’s just good for pastors to keep learning. A lot of guys get busy and they forget to invest themselves in growing and learning.
“Having the three professors come in and do a deep-dive on [John] — they’re doing the background, the theological themes and the sermons. It helps our guys continue to learn.”
Secondly, the fellowship element is important.
“It’s a chance for pastors to get together and encourage one another,” Pace explained.
Thirdly, the practical aspects of the conference “are a great blessing too,” such as ideas garnered for effective preaching.
“We have a Facebook page for these guys, and every year after the conference I can document two dozen guys who are doing a sermon series in that book.
“We’ve given them something to make their ministry a little more productive,” Pace added.
Attendance grew in 2023, with Pace estimating some 175 participants in three locations.
“As a pastor, I was pouring into people all the time and studying,” Pace said. “What a blessing to have someone pour into me. It was a place to learn, be challenged and go deep into a book of the Bible.
“I encourage guys by telling them they’re going to get to spend a day with fellow pastors and ministers, and we have to do more than that,” Pace said. “We need to be with each other more and share with each other more. It’s investing in the ministry and investing in yourself to be the best you can be.
“If you’re in the pastorate or in the ministry, who isn’t looking for the next sermon idea or sermon series?”