Southeastern Alum and Visiting Professors Model Faithful Preaching at SBC22 Pastors’ Conference
Chad Burchett | June 14, 2022
On June 12-13, Southern Baptist pastors, messengers, and guests gathered to worship and hear expository preaching through Colossians for the 2022 Pastors’ Conference at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Themed around the motto, “We Proclaim Him,” the 2022 Pastors’ Conference featured preaching from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) alum, Daniel Ritchie, as well as from SEBTS visiting professors, Al Jackson, Pastor Emeritus of Lakeview Baptist Church, and Matt Carter, Lead Pastor of Sagemont Church.
Introducing the third session of the conference, Ritchie shared from 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 and challenged pastors to recognize and celebrate God’s grace in moments of groaning and brokenness. “In his grace, God sees you,” Ritchie declared, calling attendees to rest in the reality that God cares for them even when the isolation, burden, and fatigue of ministry seem insurmountable. During seasons of burnout, many pastors are tempted to place their confidence or contentment in the success of their ministries. However, Ritchie reminded pastors, “Our contentment and strength come from Jesus and Jesus alone.”
Because Jesus is the grounding of the pastor’s confidence, contentment, and strength, pastors do ministry empowered and emboldened by Christ’s finished and ongoing work. “We live for his sake because of what he has already done for us,” shared Ritchie. “That is our fuel. That is why we proclaim him. That is why we love him. That is why we lead in his name. That is why we pursue the people in our community who are lost and dying apart from the work of Christ. It is not about us it is about him. It is for his sake that we live. It is for his sake that we love. It is for his sake that we preach.”
We live for his sake because of what he has already done for us. That is our fuel. That is why we proclaim him.
Resuming the preaching series through Colossians, Carter preached from Colossians 3:12-14 about the loving disposition and manner in which Christians should live life together. Carter reminded attendees that Paul not only warns against captivity to worldly philosophy and human tradition but also prescribes the way Christians should fight for doctrinal fidelity and theological accuracy: namely, the way of Christ-like love.
“If our love for one another is meant to show a lost world what the love of almighty God looks like, what does our infighting and division show a lost world about almighty God?” questioned Carter, who challenged attendees to meet division in the Church and the SBC with love and to meet disputes with peacemaking and kindness. “As followers of Christ, we clothe ourselves in kindness and humility and meekness and patience and forgiveness and love,” urged Carter.
Championing a spirit of love within the SBC, Carter called attendees to reverse the currents of strife and disunity in the convention. “What if we became a convention of churches that was known for biblical faithfulness and tenderheartedness?” asked Carter. “What if we became a convention of churches that was positively known for theological accuracy and kindness? What if we became a convention of churches that is known all over the world for its love of mission and its love for one another?”
What if we became a convention of churches that is known all over the world for its love of mission and its love for one another?
Concluding the conference with a sermon from Colossians 4:7-18, Jackson charged attendees to remain faithful to the ministry and to God’s mission, recognizing that God graciously imbues even seemingly insignificant acts of kingdom ministry with eternal importance. “In God’s kingdom, there are no insignificant saints,” shared Jackson. “In God’s kingdom, there are no insignificant churches. In God’s kingdom, there are no insignificant pastors.”
Commending the missional examples of Paul’s faithful fellow servants, Jackson emphasized the centrality of the Great Commission to faithful ministry. “All of us are called to be Great Commission Christians,” noted Jackson. “The Lord God has commissioned his Church and his undershepherds – that is, pastors – to make disciples. … God, give us pastors to mobilize churches to be Great Commission churches.”
All of us are called to be Great Commission Christians.
Jackson closed his message by urging pastors to guard their hearts and fight for holiness. “Do not presume that you are incapable of forsaking your ministry,” warned Jackson. “Worldliness has sidelined many a pastor from finishing the race God has called them to.” Discipling churches to be holy and missional does not negate the pastor’s duty to remain holy and spiritually disciplined.
“While the Great Commission teaches that every disciple-maker must also be a disciple, discipling pastors, unfortunately, is still a largely overlooked ministry,” commented Ronjour Locke, Instructor of Preaching and Urban Ministry and Director for the Center for Preaching and Pastoral Leadership at SEBTS. “That is why I always look forward to our annual time of fellowship at the Pastors’ Conference. I was also thrilled to see a few Southeasterners spread our Great Commission vision at the conference this year. May our pastors continue to be equipped and encouraged as they make faithful disciples for the glory of Christ.”