Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Hosts Fifth Annual For the Church National Conference

Georgia pastor Crawford Loritts, at the For the Church conference, noted five choices a pastor can make when facing discouragement: Choose truth, choose joy, choose faith, choose community and choose service. MBTS photo

With a focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ amidst a culture marked by postmodernism, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted its fifth annual For the Church National Conference in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 23-24.

Keynote speakers Crawford Loritts, J.D. Greear, Tony Merida, Jason Allen, Owen Strachan and Jared Wilson preached messages revolving around the conference’s “Our Only Hope” theme, while Shane & Shane led in praise and worship songs.

“We are privileged and consider it a significant stewardship to host the For the Church Conference each year,” Midwestern President Jason Allen said. “What began as a dream five years ago has grown in momentum year by year into a major conference where we can encourage pastors and ministry leaders through the teaching of the Word and send them home refreshed and prepared to thrive in their gospel ministries.”

Christ & Discipleship

Allen led the conference’s first session, “Christ and Discipleship,” basing his message on John 15:1-11.

Christian discipleship is a life or death proposition, Allen said, describing “flame outs” and “fizzle outs” among pastors as detrimental to the church. Thus, pastors must make priority number one in their lives to be faithful, fruitful and growing disciples of Christ.

The ability to do this comes through the power of Christ in one’s life and obedience to His commands, Allen said. And the ultimate result of one’s ministry is to glorify God.

“‘My father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples,'” Allen said in a reference to John 15. “That’s the basic goal of the Christian life. We were taught as kids … that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Ministers bear a particular stewardship for God’s glory. The more visible the ministry, the greater the platform, the higher the pedestal from which we speak, the more heightened the stewardship.”

Christ & Courage

Crawford Loritts, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., spoke on “Christ and Courage” in the conference’s second message.

Gleaning from his years of ministry experience, Loritts conveyed a mentor’s heart in addressing how pastors can battle against discouragement in their ministries.

Loritts noted five choices a pastor can make when facing discouragement: Choose truth, choose joy, choose faith, choose community and choose service.

Of choosing service, Loritts said, “There are seasons in ministry where it’s going to be flat-out hard, just hard, and you don’t have the option to quit. You have the press through.”

Referring to Psalm 126:4, he said there will be negative seasons in ministry, but you must keep on sowing the seeds of the Gospel. You keep showing up, even through your tears, and loving your people in spite of the hurt you’re feeling. As a result, “God says if you’re hanging in there long enough, those tears will be holy fertilizer, and there will be a bumper crop.”

Christ and Culture

Owen Strachan, Midwestern’s associate professor of Christian theology, opened the conference’s second day with a message on “Christ and Culture” from Hebrews 2:14-18.

Christ came to earth with the purpose of destroying Satan, delivering mankind from the slavery of fear, making atonement for man’s sin and helping people overcome their challenges, Strachan said.

As these truths relate to our modern culture, he said it’s crucial to understand that believers can approach their task of proclaiming the Gospel from the vantage point of victory.

The victory has already taken place, and the battle has been won, Strachan said. Jesus is now fighting for us in this victorious Kingdom while Satan is still battling against us in the same way.

“Satan lives to accuse you. He’s doing it now, but Jesus prays for you,” Strachan said. “Hebrews 7:25 states that ‘He is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.’ In other words, there is a war of words going on right now between God and the devil, and Jesus’ words are victory for you.”

Strachan added that the way to engage culture is by offering the foolishness of the cross, preaching cross-centered messages and emulating Jesus to everyone we encounter.

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Source: Baptist Press