LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Baptist pastors took encouragement from a strong lineup of top preachers at the annual KBC Pastors’ Conference on Monday, a day ahead of the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.
New Orleans pastor Fred Luter, the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, encouraged pastors to trust God's promises when things don't make sense.
"You may feel alone, my brothers and sisters," said Luter, "but you are never, never, never alone. Jesus promised to never leave us alone."
Grace Union Baptist Church Pastor Todd Bryant called on pastors to keep preaching the gospel even though it has become politically incorrect to do so.
“It’s not politically correct to tell people they’re going to hell if they don’t know Jesus,” the rural Cumberland County preacher said. “I don’t have to be politically correct; I just have to be Jesus-correct.”
Bryant said he said understands that pastors sometimes want to give up in a world that requires them to have “the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child and the hide of a rhinoceros." But urged them to stay “prayed up and pumped up” because “there’s somebody in this world depending on you to share the gospel.”
Kentucky Baptists from across the state began arriving in Louisville on Saturday for a citywide evangelistic outreach ahead of the KBC annual meeting, which begins shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday at Highview Baptist Church’s east campus.
Todd Gray, KBC’s evangelism team leader, said volunteers fanned out through the city knocking on at least 1,000 doors to tell residents about Jesus and to encourage them to attend church. Volunteers also led a Fusal Tournament and provided a free medical clinic.
The pastors’ conference is a longstanding tradition held the day before the annual meeting. Mark Shelton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Burkesville and leader of this year’s pastors’ conference, said the event is intended to encourage and inspire pastors who tend to be underappreciated and overworked.
“Your hard work is appreciated and does not go unnoticed, by the one who matters most, Jesus,” Shelton wrote in a letter to pastors. “Jesus knew we would all have times when we would … grow weary. He knew we would get tired, burned out, discouraged, disgusted and just flat out want to quit. So, understand, you are not alone, and you are the not the first one to feel the way you do.”
Herb Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Florida, said when preachers get discovouraged they need to keep in mind they belong to Christ.
"When I get to getting a little down, I just think of this amazing grace," he said. "Don't ever get over getting down."
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., told pastors they have a “divine alarm system” and it’s blaring.
“It’s amazing what can happen to a human soul that does not take care of the conscience,” Hunt said. “The conscience is compared to the window that lets in the light. God’s law is the light. The cleaner the window, the more the light comes in.”
Dan Garland, director of church partnerships at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, reminded pastors that Jesus once sent his disciples into a storm.
“The lessons will only come in the headwinds of life,” he said.
Garland called on Kentucky pastors to continue serving in the cultural storms of the modern world, not looking back but pressing ahead.
“Jesus doesn’t want us to live in the ‘was,’” he said. “He wants us to life in the ‘is.’”
Pastors gathered for the conference Monday evening chose Twelve Oaks Baptist Church Pastor Brandt Lyon president-elect of the 2019 KBC Pastors’ Conference.
Lyon will serve as president-elect alongside incoming President Travis Farris, an Owensboro pastor, over the next year before moving into the presidency in 2019.