Juan Sanchez said at his church, High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, the chairs are arranged where church members can see each other.
“That’s because even though we sing to God, we also sing the Word to each other,” he said.
Sanchez said it’s encouraging for someone who’s singing to see someone else worshipping who was recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s encouraging for church members to see someone else glorifying God who is struggling with infertility.
All of this is part of trying to make the Word of God as central as possible at High Pointe, Sanchez said as he preached the convention sermon at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 15.
“The foundation of the Church is this revelation of the Father that Jesus is the Christ,” he said, preaching on Ephesians 4:11–16. “It is through Jesus that God will bring together all that has been broken.”
If a pastor’s end goal is merely church growth, he will be tempted to build on other foundations, Sanchez said. “We’re tempted to build on the foundations of music styles, age-grade ministries, politics or even our own personalities. Growth that comes by something other than the Word is not lasting, nor is it God glorifying. What we’ve won people with is what we’ve won them to.”
Centrality of the Word
He challenged church leaders to make the Word central.
“Order your Sunday services around the Word of God,” Sanchez said. “Sing the Word. Read the Word. Preach the Word. Pray the Word and see the Word in the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”
He also challenged pastors to preach expositionally through books of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.
“The aim of our preaching is to teach our people how to read the Word for themselves,” Sanchez said.
God has entrusted pastors with the task of preaching the Word and also of providing pathways, like Bible studies and small groups, through which church members can enter discipleship relationships and flourish in their faith, Sanchez said.
All of this together helps Christians grow, he said. “Pastors, preach the Word … You don’t need to be known outside your town. You don’t need to write a book. You don’t need to be on a conference platform. If you are preaching the Word, the Father knows who you are.”
Sanchez asked messengers who were present to imagine what it might look like if all churches in the SBC focused on putting the Word at the center.
“Imagine with me a convention of churches where faithful pastors are preaching the whole counsel of God week in and week out. Where faithful are men continually being raised up and deployed to go on the missions field,” he said. “Imagine churches where they reproduce faithful churches here in North American and around the world. Imagine the Lord blessing the ministry of the Word. Isn’t that what we want?”
View photos from this business session of the Annual Meeting here.
To view more photos from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, click here.
For more stories from the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, visit thebaptistpaper.org/sbc2022.