Pastors encouraged in ministry pursuitsby Gabrielle Diepenbrock
At the beginning of the 2014 Pastor’s Conference, president Josh Phillips said he hoped the two-day event would encourage and refresh pastors going through a difficult time.
Attendees heard from eight different speakers, who preached on the theme “The Pursuit,” based on 1 Timothy 6:11. The conference took place Nov. 9-10 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, right before the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Annual Meeting.
Several speakers at the event encouraged and challenged pastors to pursue God, guard their testimonies and remain faithful to the preaching of God’s Word in their ministries.
Robert Smith Jr., professor of Christian Preaching at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., spoke on the virtues listed in 1 Timothy 6:11, which are: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness. Smith said as people flee from evil, they automatically pursue righteousness, because fleeing and pursing is a “simultaneous action.”
Smith also said we really cannot “pursue” these virtues because God has already pursued us. Our actions are a response to God’s love for us, Smith said.
Evangelist Bob Pitman warned that the devil was seeking to damage men’s testimonies, destroy their faith and derail God’s purpose in their lives. Pitman said that one must guard their testimony and walk in faith, trusting in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
Greg Heisler, pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, emphasized the importance of preaching from God’s Word.
“Are we going to preach what’s in style or preach what the Lord is saying?” Heisler asked pastors. “We aren’t called to preach our imagination, but we are called to preach the Word of Jesus Christ.”
Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., also stressed the importance of God’s Word, mentioning that those who are not praying or reading the Bible are like ships without anchors.
Wilton encouraged those pastors who are in a “battlefield,” spurring them to continue to run their race.
Other speakers included Tony Merida, founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh; Phil Hoskins, former pastor of Higher Ground Baptist Church in Kingsport, Tenn.; Rick Coram, founder and president of Rick Coram Ministries; and Lee Chewning, associate pastor of worship at Central Campus at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
Although the Pastor’s Conference was live-streamed online, many pastors took the time to come and hear the messages in person.
“As pastors, so many times we are giving out,” said Tim Burton, pastor of Flippin Memorial Baptist Church in Mount Airy. “This is a time for us to sit down and take in and be fed and be filled and to go back encouraged to lift up our congregations.”
Burton has attended the Pastor’s conference every year but one since 1992. He said the event is a great time for fellowship as he gets to see men he does not normally see and meet up with in his day-to-day ministry.