LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–When Mike Huckabee takes the podium at the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference June 22 in Louisville, Ky., he will be standing at the intersection of the SBC annual meeting’s two major themes.
The Pastors’ Conference theme — “What if?” — will challenge participants to trust God and engage a lost world, rather than retreat from seismic cultural changes and economic uncertainty. The annual meeting theme, “LoveLoud,” will call on Southern Baptists to match their words with acts of love for a lost world.
Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who made a strong showing as a dark horse candidate in the 2008 presidential elections, plans to challenge conference attendees to imagine the difference God can make when believers trust Him and reach out to people in crisis.
“I hope to discuss the ‘what ifs’ of believers seeing their mission as taking their convictions from church to the world, rather than using church as a place to retreat from the world,” Huckabee told Baptist Press.
Claiming to believe the Bible is God’s inerrant Word rings hollow if churches fail to match their words with deeds, Huckabee added.
“We either believe the Bible or we don’t. The Bible says we’re to be the salt of the earth and light of the world,” Huckabee said. “If we don’t put that into practice, then our words are empty when we say the Bible is God’s Word.”
Huckabee cautioned that, in a time of economic stress and cultural upheaval, believers need to be careful that their attitudes toward a lost world are shaped by the love of Jesus, not the opinions of people who have their own agenda for influencing society.
“We shouldn’t look at the world through the eyes of the economist, the pundit, the politician, the advertiser, the movie-maker, or the entertainer,” he said. “We should see the world through the eyes of Jesus.”
Pastors’ Conference President Ed Litton said Huckabee is a great example of how different things can be if Christians truly live out the mind, love, spirit and purpose of Christ — which highlights the conference watchword: “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” (Philippians 2:2).
“In all the years I’ve known Mike Huckabee, I’ve watched him stand between the church and the culture and represent Christ in the face of opposition,” Litton said. “He’s firm about the truth he believes, but he always loves his enemies.”
Southern Baptists need to hear what Huckabee has to say about the “What if?” theme “because he is showing us how to take the Gospel to this nation — living it in front of them,” Litton added.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘This is what we ought to do,’ but Mike engages the culture,” Litton said. “If we could learn from him how to treat one another, much less our enemies, we’d go a long way in this convention.”
Huckabee, himself a former Southern Baptist pastor, is scheduled to speak at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time June 22 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.
Also slated to speak at the Pastors’ Conference are:
— J.D. Greear, Summit Church in Durham, N.C.;
— Mac Brunson, First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.;
— Chuck Colson, Prison Fellowship;
— Mike Landry, Sarasota (Fla.) Baptist Church;
— Ed Stetzer, LifeWay Research;
— Francis Chan, Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif.
— Tom Elliff, International Mission Board;
— Michael Catt, Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.;
— Fred Luter Jr., Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.;
— Johnny Hunt, Woodstock (Ga.) First Baptist Church;
— David Platt, Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.
Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. Information about the 2009 Pastors’ Conference program is available at sbcpc.net.