LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – What is your identity in Christ?
The 2019 Pastors’ Conference is scheduled to take up this question on Nov. 11 at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, the day before the Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. A powerhouse lineup of speakers will explore the concept of identity in Christ and how that belief translates in a world that defines itself in sexual, racial and political terms.
J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and the pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, will wrap up a riveting day of speaking.
Three other speakers will precede Greear in the daylong conference that begins at 2 p.m. Panel discussions will follow each speaker’s presentation.
The other speakers and panelists are:
-Denny Burk joined the faculty of Boyce College and Southern Seminary in 2008. He serves as the director of the Center for Gospel and Culture. He will speak on the subject of sexual identity and then be part of a panel discuss with KBC’s church planning associate Job Jurarez, Immanuel Pastor Ray Green and moderator Todd Robertson, the Louisville regional Associational Missions Strategist. Burk speaks at 2 p.m.
-Bruce Ashford, who serves as provost and professor of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, will expound on political identity and then participate in a panel discussion with KBC legislatie agent Tom Troth, Capital Commission chaplain and Farmdale Baptist Pastor Steve Weaver, Bellevue Baptist Pastor Greg Faulls and moderator Brandon Porter, director of communications at the KBC. Ashford follows Burk.
-Curtis Woods, the KBC’s associate executive director for convention relations and the assistant professor of applied theology and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will take on the topic of racial identity and afterward join a panel discussion with Forest Baptist Church Pastor Nate Bishop, Lone Oak First Baptist Church Pastor Dan Summerlin and moderator Todd Gray, KBC’s executive director-treasurer. Woods speaks at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by Greear, who will explore the ultimate identity as that of being in Christ Jesus.
Brandt Lyons, the pastor of Twelve Oaks Baptist Church in Paducah, is the president of the Pastors’ Conference. He said the identity topic will hit home with a lot of pastors who are dealing with these issues on a daily basis.
“It seems like, everywhere we turn, one of the greatest boundaries of us sharing the gospel to people today as they’re finding their identities in other things,” Lyons said. “And oftentimes that’s what prohibits us from really being able to reach people.”
Lyons said people are counting their sexual, political or racial identities as “more important than finding their identity in Christ” and this will help address the issues pastors face in the world’s divisive political climate.
The subject matter is important to be debated as to how it relates in the Bible, the ultimate authority, Woods said.
“Jesus commands us to be salt and light in a tasteless dark world. Three areas where we observe constant confusion within our culture are politics, sexuality, and race,” he said. “As servants of the gospel and friends of sinners, pastors have the unique responsibility to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints without becoming contentious (Jude 3: 20-23). We cannot conform to the image of this world or allow the world to define the talking points on issues related to politics, sexuality, and race. The Bible has the final answer on the subject.”
Greear said it’s vital that Christians have an identity in Christ as they take their stance on issues like race, politics and same-sex.
“Without an identity in Christ, we do not have a framework from which to approach these important issues,” he said. “If we let go of our identity in him, we will be tempted to form stances on political issues that suit our interests rather than reflecting the biblical framework he’s given us. As the book of Proverbs tells us, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.’ We can never let go of what Christ says on any issue, lest we ‘follow our own way.’ Instead, we must always let our words be shaped by the gospel alone.”
Greear said pastors cannot simply ignore these divisive issues and “just preach Jesus.”
“It’s impossible to ‘just preach Jesus’ without applying the gospel to the situation in which our people actually live,” he said. “That’s not to say that pastors should become public policy advisors: In fact, we shouldn’t, since we are neither called nor component for this. But we must not forget that Jesus spent his ministry speaking the gospel as well as demonstrating the gospel. He cared for the weak, the poor, and the oppressed. Those of us who follow in his footsteps will do the same, exhibiting the same compassion as we preach the gospel in word and demonstrate it in deed.”
Greear said he will address pastors about the challenge of finding their identity in Christ alone and to avoid being defined by successes or accomplishments or church attendance numbers. “If we find our identity in Christ, it will impact every other area of our lives.”
Woods said the Pastors’ Conference will be a blessing to Kentucky’s pastors who attend.
“There are few occasions in Kentucky Baptist life when pastors have a chance to relax and receive the Word from other Bible expositors,” he said. “The Pastors’ Conference seeks to enliven the joy in our pastors’ hearts while strengthening their will to shepherd the flock of God with great care and instruction.”
Worship throughout the conference will be led by Bo Warren, worship pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. The conference is scheduled to finish at 9 p.m.
The Pastors’ Conference will have two elections on Nov. 11 to select presidents for 2020 and 2021.
Kenny Rager, who was selected to serve as Pastors’ Conference president in 2020, resigned after accepting a position on the KBC Mission Board staff.
Wes Fowler, pastor of First Baptist Church Mayfield, will nominate Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak Baptist Church in Paducah, to fill the vacancy for 2020.
Charles Frazier, pastor of Zion’s Cause Baptist Church in Benton, will nominate John Lucas, pastor of First Baptist Church Pikeville, to be president for the 2021 conference.
To learn more about the 2019 Pastors’ Conference, click HERE.