A first-ever Pastor Appreciation Day held Sept. 16 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary proved to be just what many pastors needed.
"We're in the battlefield and it's tough. We need this type of thing," one participating pastor told President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. during a dialogue session.
About 220 pastors from Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio traveled to the Louisville, Ky., campus at the invitation of Mohler for the day-long event which included a chapel message and dialogue session with Southern Baptist Convention President Tom Elliff, four seminars, and a luncheon. Featuring an address by Mohler, the luncheon was the first event held in the seminary's newly constructed Chiles Conference Center.
Reminding pastors of their open invitation to the campus throughout the year, Mohler said the seminary plans to make Pastor Appreciation Day an annual event. "If we are not, as a seminary, a place where pastors come for edification and encouragement and fellowship with other like-minded, like-convicted pastors who are out serving in the churches, then we … have failed," Mohler told the ministers.
Warning of the inherent dangers of chasing "success" in ministry, SBC President Tom Elliff, in a chapel address, challenged pastors to pursue "effectiveness" instead. The pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., was the featured speaker for Pastor Appreciation Day.
Mohler praised Elliff for "redefining" the role of SBC president, especially in his representation of Southern Baptists to national media regarding the convention's controversial boycott of The Walt Disney Company.
Though popular sentiment plays no role in defining evangelical convictions, Elliff said public reaction to the boycott has been surprisingly friendly to Southern Baptist concerns. Since August, Elliff has received approximately 1,000 letters a week on the boycott, with the ratio of correspondence running 5,000 letters in support of the boycott for every three that oppose it, he said.
"People have had it," he said. "What Disney is doing is dumping stuff in the front yard of America that is diminishing the moral value of our nation."
Ministers in the midst of "post-Christian America" must restore the meaning of a truly separated church which is distinctively Christian and, at the same time, confront the nation's cultural decay, Mohler told pastors in a luncheon address entitled, "The Church in the Midst of Culture Shock: Trends, Trials, and Tough Issues."
"We had better come to understand the church as a unique society committed to the eternal truth of God's Word and redeemed by the power of the Lamb," Mohler said. "And understand that in a genuine sectarian sense we will not think as the world thinks nor live as the world lives. Nor will we now expect the world to understand us."