ST. LOUIS Aimed at giving pastors a charge like the one the apostle Paul gave his son in the ministry, Timothy, in 2 Timothy 4:5-6, the 2016 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference challenged pastors to endure hardship and engage in evangelism.
Texas pastors serving in leadership this year were pastors’ conference president John Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, and conference treasurer Glynn Stone, pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview. Additionally, two Texas pastors preached sermons during the two-day conference at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis June 12-13.
West Texas pastor Byron McWilliams concluded the Monday morning session with a charge to pastors to develop an intentional evangelism strategy for their churches. He shared from his own experience how the Lord has moved mightily at his church, First Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas, through their intentional evangelism efforts.
McWilliams noted the pastor’s responsibility to lead out in evangelism, saying, “When the pastor lives the Gospel, God is most glorified, … God’s church is most fortified, … God’s servant is most satisfied.”
Recognizing the rich evangelistic heritage of the SBC, McWilliams reflected on the current state of Southern Baptist churches and said, “We stink at evangelism … and it is our (pastors’) fault. It is not the fault of the Southern Baptist Convention’s top leadership; it is not the fault of the people who sit in the pews; … I am a pastor, and I point the finger at me if I pastor a church that does not preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
McWilliams told pastors that if they renew their commitment to evangelism, it will be a life filled with broken-heartedness over the lost in their community and the world. At the same time, though, it will invigorate their ministry.
“You will not find true satisfaction in ministry until the Gospel becomes central in what you do,” McWilliams said. “You will see no evidence of the power of God at work until the Gospel becomes central to what you do.
“God has promised His power to further His kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You want power in your ministry? You make the Gospel first and foremost, and what you’ll see is the power of God will be unleashed in an incredible way.”
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, urged Pastors’ Conference attendees to fulfill their ministry calling, to be faithful, to be fruitful in their efforts, and to finish well. The way to accomplish these tasks is to “do the work of an evangelist,” Graham said.
Basing his message from 2 Timothy 4:5-8, Graham offered 10 principle ways to create an evangelistic environment and culture within the local church: evangelism begins with the pastor; an invitational culture should be encouraged and developed within a church; authenticity is critical; the power of the gospel must be trusted; do whatever it takes to reach people for Christ; train believers to share their faith; give a public invitation; baptize believers as often as you can; engage in event evangelism; and participate in mission trips and church planting.
“Pastors and people in ministry are called to … keep showing up and being faithful,” Graham said, emphasizing his point about pastors setting the tone for the evangelistic climate of their churches. “It all starts with us—with our attitude, our holy ambitions, and the enthusiasm, eagerness and passion to preach the Word and to do the work of an evangelist.”
Graham noted evangelism should permeate the atmosphere of a church. The ideology of it is more caught than taught, he said, so a high expectation should be set for church members to be invitational.
Additionally, Graham called for petty differences to be put aside when working to share the gospel within a community.
“The time is now to come together—to do away with the distractions and divisions, to set aside petty differences—and get on our knees, get together, and get people to Jesus,” he said.
When it comes to evangelism being carried out in the local church, Graham exhorted the group: “You gotta finish. Live this! (Evangelism) is our life; it is our legacy. I’m not interested in leaving a legacy; I’m interested in living a legacy and doing what God has called me to do.”
—with reporting by Pat Hudson of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.