KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – With a focus on establishing and maintaining healthy local churches, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted its seventh annual For the Church National Conference in Kansas City Sept. 27-28.
The event returned to the Daniel Lee Chapel on the campus of Midwestern Seminary, one year after the 2020 conference was held exclusively online due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s keynote speakers – H.B. Charles Jr., Juan Sanchez, Robby Gallaty, Jason Allen and Jared Wilson – preached impassioned messages revolving around the conference’s theme of “Until Every Church Healthy,” while Jimmy McNeal and Austin Stone Worship led attendees in corporate worship.
“We consider it a significant stewardship to host the For the Church Conference each year, and we were particularly delighted to be back in person on our campus for this year’s gathering,” Midwestern President Jason Allen said.
“Every opportunity we have to encourage pastors and ministry leaders is significant, yet this annual gathering held each September is altogether unique. We are grateful for the chance to invest in and encourage ministry leaders through corporate worship, the teaching of God’s Word, and through rich fellowship with brothers and sisters from across the nation.”
Biblical preaching and church health
Allen led the conference’s first session, answering the question, “Why is expositional preaching important for church health?” Allen preached the message from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:5.
Biblical preaching, according to Allen, is not only important for church health; it is essential. From the text in 2 Timothy, Allen highlighted three points related to the importance of biblical preaching for cultivating and maintaining healthy churches: 1) the church needs biblical preaching, 2) Scripture asserts the need for biblical preaching, and 3) a faithful ministry requires biblical preaching.
Leadership and church health
Juan Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, delivered the conference’s second message. Sanchez was tasked with answering the question, “Why is leadership important for church health?”
Gleaning from his years of ministry experience, Sanchez based his conference message on Ephesians 1:7-23 and 1 Timothy 3. Sanchez framed the message’s content with answers to two additional questions: “What is the eternal plan of God?” and “What is the place of the church in God’s eternal plan?” Leadership for church health, according to Sanchez, is grounded in the answers to these two questions.
Membership and church health
Continuing the theme of “Until Every Church Healthy” on Tuesday morning, the conference’s next speaker, H.B. Charles Jr., pastor-teacher at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., reflected on the importance of biblical church membership for church health.
Preaching from 1 Peter 2:9-10, Charles reminded the audience of what the church is and what it is not according to Scripture. Fundamentally, he said, the church is a redeemed community that belongs to God.
“The church, if it is to be healthy, cannot be based on individual taste and opinions and preferences,” Charles said. “The church is not a collection of individuals. It’s a community of people. What kind of people? He says we are a people for his own possession.”
Discipleship and church health
Robby Gallaty, senior pastor at Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., addressed conference attendees on the topic, “Discipleship and Church Health.”
The main emphasis of his message from Mark 1:16-20 was to communicate a biblical depiction of true discipleship. From the text, Gallaty established three points related to the process of discipleship in the lives of believers: 1) true disciples are called by Christ, 2) true disciples are formed by Christ, and 3) a healthy disciple is focused on others.
Gospel-centrality and church health
In the conference’s final session, Jared Wilson, assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Spurgeon College and author-in-residence at the seminary, preached from Colossians 3 on keeping the Gospel at the center of the church’s focus.
“Because the Gospel is the beating heart of Christianity, to say that keeping the Gospel central is important for church health is like saying keeping your heart in your chest is important for bodily health,” Wilson said.
Pre-conference and workshops
On Monday morning, the FTC Women’s Pre-Conference featured speaker and teacher Nicole Lino, author Abigail Dodds, and Karen Allen, founder of Midwestern Women’s Institute and wife of Jason Allen. The ladies’ event focused on the theme: The Body of Christ.
On Tuesday afternoon, multiple workshops and breakout sessions were led by pastors and ministry leaders from among the broader SBC community. Speakers and sessions included:
- Jeff Dodge, teaching pastor at Veritas Church (Iowa City, Iowa), on “Multiplication”
- A panel discussion with Nicole Lino, Karen Allen, Christy Allen and Faith McDonald
- Brian Davis, pastor at Risen Christ Fellowship (Philadelphia), on “Theological Foundations”
- Noah Oldham, lead pastor at August Gate Church (St. Louis), on “Faithful Preaching”
- Dean Inserra, lead pastor at City Church (Tallahassee, Fla.), on “Evangelism”
- Jonathan Leeman, elder at Cheverly Baptist Church (Washington, D.C.) and editorial director for 9Marks, on “Public Theology”
- Charles Smith, senior vice president of institutional relations and professor of Christian leadership at MBTS, on “Missional Leadership”
Next year’s For the Church National Conference will be Sept. 26-27, 2022. More information and registration information is forthcoming.
Full videos of all FTC21 plenary sessions will be available soon via the resources page at mbts.edu and at FTC.co.