By Amanda Sullivan
NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Change is in the air for the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference, June 17-18 in New Orleans, themed “Changing: Lives, Communities, the World.”
“I am changing. You are changing. The world around us is changing,” said Grant Ethridge, president of the Pastors’ Conference and senior pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va.
“But there is one thing that has not changed. God’s plan for getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth is still the local church. Changing lives, communities and the world is not optional. It is the command of Jesus.”
Ethridge is praying that the Pastors’ Conference will impart “a burning desire to see lives changed in their community,” to encourage pastors in “believing that their church, no matter the location or size, can be used of God to change lives around the world.”
David Jeremiah, David Platt, Fred Luter Jr., Johnny Hunt, Jack Graham and Herb Reavis, Jr. are among speakers. Charles Billingsley, Jeff Askew, Sounds of Liberty, the Liberty Worship Choir and Chi Alpha will lead in worship.
Honoring Father’s Day, the Pastors’ Conference will spotlight four father-son teams as speakers: Don and Rob Wilton, Ronnie and Nick Floyd, Tony and Anthony Evans, and Bailey and Josh Smith.
Josh Smith, lead pastor at MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church of Irving, Texas, said he’s excited about God’s work in and through the SBC.
“Too often the statistics we give and the messages we communicate at the SBC paint a grim picture of the current and future state of the SBC. I don’t buy it. God is at work,” Smith said. “My desire is to simply encourage pastors to continue to be faithful to their local church, faithful to the mission of the church and faithful to their cooperation with the SBC in fulfilling the Great Commission.”
Smith wants to give and gain encouragement at the Pastors’ Conference.
“I don’t want to gather together this year and leave discouraged by statistics that communicate all we are not doing,” Smith said. “I want to leave encouraged, equipped and empowered to continue to work hard for the sake of the Gospel.”
Smith said Ethridge, in planning the Pastors’ Conference, “has done a great job of honoring the past and looking forward to the future.
“We must not forget those who gave so much to get us where we are as a convention today, but we must also not forget to pass the baton to the next generation of pastors who are ready to run. I believe Grant is helping with that,” Smith said.
Such encouragement and motivation is essential, Smith said.
“Every pastor needs to be encouraged and motivated in the hard work of pastoral ministry. That is the point of the Pastors’ Conference,” he said. “I need it.”
Pastors’ Conference sessions at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans will be at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 17, and at 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 6 p.m. Monday, June 18.
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