Local pastors gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) on Oct. 29 for the first event hosted by the Charles H. Spurgeon Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching at Southeastern, which officially launched earlier this fall.
The pastors attended chapel, where the congregation gathered at the front to lay hands on them and pray for them and their ministries. Following the service, they attended a pastor appreciation luncheon in the Hall of Presidents at SEBTS.
The purpose of the event was to honor and encourage local church leaders as well as ask for their input on how the Spurgeon Center can best serve and equip them in the future.
Dr. Charles “Chuck” Lawless, dean of graduate studies and director of the Spurgeon Center, moderated a panel discussion at the luncheon about the joys and struggles of pastoring a local church. The panel included Dr. Tony Merida, pastor of Imago Dei Church of Raleigh, N.C. and SEBTS professor of preaching, and Dr. Steven Wade, pastor of Poplar Spring Baptist Church of Zebulon, N.C. and SEBTS professor of pastoral ministry.
Merida and Wade agreed that building genuine community is continually one of the biggest challenges of this kind of ministry.
“When it comes to community,” Merida said, “people see the church as a building you go to, or an event you attend. They don’t see it as a people you belong to. They don’t see it as fundamental to their identity.”
Merida commented that recently there has been a wave of seminary students who do not want to be pastors, and hypothesized that perhaps they have heard more of the challenges rather than the joys and the uniqueness of this kind of ministry.
“There is nobody else who gets the privilege of sharing life from birth to death and every major event in between,” Lawless said. “I’m not sure we always grasp the miraculous sense of that calling.”
Merida and Wade agreed that the greatest joy of their ministries is seeing lives changed.
“I love seeing people that are under the power of sin delivered from that,” Wade said. “The nurturing of the Christian homes, seeing some of our parents lead their children to faith, it’s an incredible thing.”
Before closing, Lawless asked attendees to write down issues they have questions about that could be the topics of future conferences or discussions.
“We want to hear from you,” Lawless said. “Rather than us just deciding what we need to give you, you tell us…We want to be encouraging to you.”
Merida offered his own words of encouragement. “The Bible is true. God is sovereign. Jesus loves His church. There is nothing greater for you to do but love your church and preach the Bible. You will not be embarrassed on the last day should you do that.”
To view photos from this event, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.