Unity is common theme as SBC Pastors' Conference gets underway

Southern Baptists gathered in Phoenix on June 11 to attend the first session of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.The Sunday night session of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference included messages from three pastors. Collectively, they preached through the first chapter of Philippians.

David Choi, pastor of Church of the Beloved in Chicago, preached through the first 11 verses of Chapter 1. John Onwuchekwa, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Atlanta, preached from verses 12-26, and Chris Davis, pastor of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., finished the session by preaching from verses 27-30.

Choi talked about “Our Gospel Identity” and “Our Gospel Partnership.”

“If you feel like a failure,” Choi told the pastors, family and guests attending the Pastors’ Conference in Phoenix, “that’s because you’re defining yourself by your performance.”

Instead, Choi said, we must remember that a Gospel partnership does not rest on skill sets, talents, vision or anything else man can achieve. Instead, it all rests on God.

Onwuchekwa focused his sermon on the following question: How do pastors get joy for the journey they are on?

He said in any room filled with preachers, there are at least three types of people represented: those who are fighting to get their circumstances to change in their favor (these people are tired); there are those living with the illusion that things are going well (these people are scared); and people who know their lives are not under control (these people are frustrated).

To get joy, Onwuchekwa said, will require a different mindset than the ones held by most Christians—even pastors.

Instead of focusing on joy, we must come to realize that the Gospel loves to advance down the avenue of adversity, Onwuchekwa said.

So we must realize that when we have setbacks, that very well is the exact time when God is showing us his favor. How can that be? The “obstacles,” Onwuchekwa explained, become opportunities for God to act.

The last speaker of the night was Chris Davis, pastor of Groveton Baptist Church in Alexandria.

He started his message with this summary: If Christ’s lordship does not supersede our American citizenship, we will lose our Christian witness.

Looking at Philippians 1:27-30, Davis said Paul challenged us to show two things: unity in the Gospel, and courage in our suffering.

Unity is not primarily about race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or any other factors that most Americans like to focus on. Rather, unity in Christ is a shared identity and shared mission found only in the Gospel.

“As Southern Baptists, as evangelicals, we are not primarily a voting bloc,” Davis said. Rather, we are a group of sinners that has become saints because of the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Davis challenged those in attendance to “turn down the volume of our opinions about politics and policies.”

Davis also said we will be able to generate courage in our suffering when we start viewing suffering through the lens of grace, and start acknowledging that even in our difficult seasons of life, “This is from God.”

The Pastors’ Conference resumes Monday morning. Jose Abella, pastor of Providence Road Church in Miami, is scheduled to preach Monday afternoon from the text of Philippians 3:1-11.

Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness. He can be reached via email at kbumgarner@goFBW.com, and followed on Twitter @FBW_editor.


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