By Kelly Ledbetter
HOUSTON (BP) — By strengthening the pastor and his family, Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference President Gregg Matte wants to create a movement that could become the spark God uses to bring revival. Thus the theme of this year’s gathering: “Launch: Taking Our Hearts, Homes, and Ministries to a Higher Place.”
The June 9-10 Pastors’ Conference will featuring preaching, worship, prayer and panel discussions to undergird the ministry of pastors and their wives. The sessions, at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, will be held prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 11-12 annual meeting there.
“Our vision for PC13 is to inspire the heart and offer practical application to the hands of the pastor and his wife,” Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church, has said, toward seeking to create a movement rather than another conference. The “Launch” theme, he added, offers a nod to the host city’s role in America’s space program.
“The Pastors’ Conference is not just a connection with an event, but a connection with a pathway” to a relationship with the convention, Matte told the Southern Baptist TEXAN newsjournal. “That’s something we can bring to the table that others can’t. You can go to another conference and it starts, it finishes and it’s over.”
In contrast, by interacting with other pastors of all ages at the Pastors’ Conference, Matte said, “You connect and now you’re connected with the resources that relationship can provide for you.
“The denomination was created to be a blessing to the local church,” he added in describing the camaraderie among believers who take a strong stance on the Word of God and want to make a difference in the world.
“That’s a huge deal. That’s what’s important to young guys, too,” Matte said, voicing a belief that all generations should participate in the annual meeting, pre-convention sessions such as the Pastor’s Conference and the Crossover evangelistic effort. This year, Crossover will include outreach in conjunction with Union Baptist Association and North American Mission Board as well as block parties hosted by Southern Baptists of Texas Convention churches.
Speakers for Sunday evening (June 9) at the Pastors’ Conference will include Bruce Frank, pastor of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C.; John Bisagno, pastor emeritus of Houston’s First Baptist Church; and SBC President Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.
Also that night, a ministry roundtable panel discussion will consider the topics of leadership challenges, leading change, and leading a congregation and staff. It will feature Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas; Rodney Woo, senior pastor of the International Baptist Church in Singapore; and Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources’ church resources division.
Monday morning (June 10), will feature messages by Woo and Ed Stetzer, lead pastor of Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., and president of LifeWay Research, and a panel discussion on preaching Scripture and reaching the lost by Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Ark.; Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; and Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C., and associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest.
On Monday afternoon, speakers will include pastor Matt Carter of Austin Stone Community Church in Austin and Gary Rosberg of Des Moines, Iowa, speaker and co-founder of America’s Family Coaches. Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., and his wife Ann will lead a roundtable discussion on balancing family and ministry, keeping the Sabbath through rest, a pastor’s personal relationship with Jesus, and handling fear.
“If we lead well, preach the Word well and blow up our homes, then we’ve lost it,” Matte said, emphasizing the importance of addressing family concerns. “There a very big tension for us as pastors to not work 24 hours a day,” he said, referencing a pastor’s mindset “so when we’re at church we’re not at home, and when we’re home we’re not at church.”
Matte said wives are encouraged to join their husbands for the afternoon session on family issues following the women’s concurrent session on Monday morning featuring keynote speakers Barb Rosberg of America’s Family Coaches and Jennie Allen of Austin, author of “Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul.”
On Monday evening, Pastors’ Conference speakers will include Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.; Tim McKenzie of Sugar Land, Texas, president and founder of On Every Word Ministry; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, host of “Huckabee” on the Fox News Channel.
This year’s leadership team, which includes Paul Jimenez, pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., as vice president and pastor John Morgan of Sagemont Church in Houston as treasurer, sought to enlist a diverse group of speakers from different ages and stages of life. “You’ve got people from different places and ethnicities,” Matte said, “from North Carolina to Singapore to Houston to California.”
Matte said his prayer for pastors after the conference is that “we’d preach better, we’d lead better, we’d see God’s Word better and stronger, and the Lord would do His work in us.”
The Pastors’ Conference is free and requires no registration. To learn more about this year’s schedule, sponsors and mission, visit http://www.sbcpc.net/.
For the first time in a couple of years, childcare for older children — ages 6-12 — will be offered during all Pastors’ Conference sessions, provided by Children’s Conferences International. Register at www.childrensconferences.com.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief childcare volunteers will offer childcare for newborns through age 5 during the Pastors’ Conference.
Kelly Ledbetter is a writer based in Grapevine, Texas. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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