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For the Church National Conference focuses on ‘A Glorious Calling’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Midwestern Seminary hosted the ninth annual For the Church National Conference in Kansas City Sept. 11-12, welcoming more than 1,100 pastors and ministry leaders to campus.

Speakers Jason K. Allen, Jimmy Scroggins, Ben Mandrell, Afshin Ziafat, H.B. Charles Jr. and Jared C. Wilson preached on the importance of ministry calling and sought to encourage attendees to faithfully pursue their ministry with joy.

“It was a great privilege and joy to host so many pastors and ministry leaders on our campus this week at our For the Church National Conference,” said President Jason Allen. “This year, we wanted our conference to be focused upon reminding pastors of just how glorious ministry is. Though it is, undoubtedly, full of challenges, ministers of the Gospel have been given a glorious calling, and our hope was that every minister who attended left refreshed and encouraged in the ministry that Christ has entrusted to them.”

A glorious calling

Allen delivered the first message of the conference, preaching from Colossians 4:17. He focused on reminding pastors and ministry leaders that their calling and their ministry are more noble, more worthy, and more glorious than any other calling.

He said, “Your calling is God’s plan to redeem a people. Your ministry and your calling are crucial. If you are serving the Church, you are serving a good cause. Fulfill your ministry.”

Allen closed his message by reminding them that they are in the ministry not because they signed up for it or applied for a position, but because God has called them to it and situated them for it.

Embrace the call

The conference’s second message was delivered by Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Life Church in South Florida.

Scroggins spoke from 1 Timothy 3, specifically addressing the pastoral qualifications related to a man’s management of his household.

“Paul doesn’t say to have a perfect marriage,” he said. “He doesn’t even say to project a perfect marriage. He says to manage your household well. Churches that call up dads and train them to fight for their marriages and their children are going to have a future.”

He went on to share how these qualifications apply to local church ministry, stating how the patterns of leadership in the home should match the pattern of leadership in the church.

Light to the darkness

Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, opened the second day of the conference with a message on total forgiveness.

Preaching from Genesis 49, Mandrell shared four principles for attendees to know if they have totally forgiven someone, 1) “you no longer have to tell other people what this person did to you,” 2) “you remove all fear from the relationship,” 3) “you look for ways to comfort them,” and 4) “you look for all the ways that the hurt has actually helped you.”

Total forgiveness brings unparalleled freedom, he said, but forgiveness is the hardest thing we have to do in ministry. He encouraged attendees to list out the five to 10 people that have wronged them in ministry and to practice total forgiveness, as Christ did with them.

The minister’s methods

Afshin Ziafat, lead pastor of Providence Church, preached the fourth message from Ephesians 4, titled, “The Minister’s Methods.”

He shared two specific points for how God builds His Church: by giving His people gifts and shepherds.

He said, “Pastor, the people in your church have God-given gifts that are the spoils of Jesus’ victory. Every member of your church is a minister. Your role is to care for them, equip them, lead them and encourage them in their ministry.”

Finishing the task

H.B. Charles Jr., pastor-teacher at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church, delivered the next message. Preaching from 2 Corinthians 4, he exhorted attendees not to lose heart in the ministry.

“There will be turbulent times in your life, in your family, and in your ministry where you will have two options: give up or hold on. Because you’ve been entrusted with the Gospel, you must hold on.”

He went on to say, “Affliction is more than stress, it is soul-crushing pressure. You will have affliction both because of your devotion to Christ and despite your devotion to Christ. But no matter how great the burden is, Christ is always carrying the heavier part.”

Charles finished his sermon by reminding ministry leaders of the fleeting nature of life on earth, saying that any current affliction is only preparing an even greater future glory.

Set apart

The final session of the conference featured a sermon from Jared C. Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry and author in residence at Midwestern Seminary. His message focused on the holiness of God and His servants.

Wilson said, “To become more like Christ is to become more holy. Everyday ministry matters because holiness matters.”

From Hebrews 12:14-29, he shared three points on holiness: 1) holiness is paramount, 2) holiness is pursued, and 3) holiness is promised. In each point, Wilson shared how holiness does not simply make Christians more religious but makes them more Christ-like. Apart from Christ, he said, there is no holiness.

He closed his message and the conference by encouraging attendees to pursue holiness in life and ministry, to love others for God’s glory, and to strive for peace with all to fulfill their glorious calling.

Pre-conference and workshops

On Monday morning before main conference, Spurgeon College hosted the annual Student Pastor Conference, a one-day conference aimed at equipping and refreshing student ministers. This year’s conference featured speakers Sam Bierig, Alex Duke, Mike McGarry and Matt Stewart.

During the conference, participants attended special events such as the Send Network Late Night, the Banner of Truth breakfast, and Women’s Track and Spanish Track options as well.

Tuesday afternoon included multiple workshops and breakout sessions for conference attendees. Pastors and ministry leaders from among the broader Southern Baptist community led each session. Speakers and sessions were:

  • Paul Davis: “Making Disciples Who Reach the Nations Here and There”
  • Erin Davis: “Everyday Faith and Ministry” (Women’s Track)
  • Steve Dighton: “To Comfort and Guide: The Pastor as Shepherd”
  • Jason Dees: “Helping Disciples Disciple”
  • Caleb Brasher: “Finding Purpose and Preparation in the Midst of Hardship”
  • Matt Carter: “Mobilizing Your Congregation to Fulfill the Great Commission”
  • Brad Wheeler: “Multiply: Establishing a Replicating Church”
  • Freddy Noble, Rafael Gutierrez, Bobby Sena, Arnaldo Achucarro: Spanish Track
  • Dale Johnson, Matthew Barrett, Geoff Chang, Patrick Schreiner, Jared Bumpers: Theological Issues Facing the Church (Faculty Panel)

Full videos of all FTC23 plenary sessions will be available soon via the resources page at mbts.edu and at FTC.co. Information regarding FTC24 will soon be available at mbts.edu/ftc

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  • Brett Fredenberg/MBTS