Who are you? What is your identity?
Who are you? What is your identity? Those two questions are asked often in today’s culture. Pastors and church leaders face questions along this line on a regular basis. As a result, this year’s Kentucky Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference will address the issue of “Identity.”
“It’s something I’m dealing with in ministry,” said Brandt Lyon, pastor of Twelve Oaks Baptist Church in Paducah and president of the Pastors’ Conference. “It seems like everywhere one turns it’s one of the greatest boundaries of us sharing the gospel today because people are finding their identities in other things.
“Today there is such division in all areas — whether it be sexual identity or political or racial. These are divisions that people are finding more important than finding their identity in Christ. We’re just trying to address those things and ask the questions, ‘How do we reach people in this political climate? And why is it that our identity in Christ is so much more important than any other identity?'”
The Pastors’ Conference starts at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington. Following a dinner break, the conference resumes at 6:30 p.m. There will be three speakers, and following each speaker there will be a roundtable discussion. J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be the final speaker for the evening.
This year’s format differs from previous years with the panel discussions. “We want to have a discussion rather than just listen to someone speak. We’ll interact on specific topics, and people will have the opportunity to submit questions so our panelists can engage on those questions,” Lyon said. He added that his hope is pastors will be encouraged by the conference.
“People must understand they have to give up certain parts of their personal identity in order to take on the identity of Christ and to put their faith in Him,” said Lyon. “That’s a truth. But at the same time we’ve got to figure out how to deliver the message in a way that helps people see that identity in Christ is so much greater than my personal identity.” Lyon gave an illustration that the discussion to those with a homosexual or transsexual identity is going to be offensive. “We’re trying to help pastors learn how to engage on these issues in winsome ways, so we can truly win them to Christ.”
The ultimate goal in all the discussions is focusing on winning souls to Christ. “We’ve become this culture that is so self-centered in identity — whether it be racial identity or sexuality or whatever it is — it is so ‘me’ centered. We’ve become this culture that is so defined by ‘my’ identity that we’re missing something so much greater — that Christ came to die for us, and we are to take on His identity and in that we find eternal life,” Lyon added.
Also at the conference, a limited number of books will be available to pastors on a first come, first served basis. In addition, elections will be held to select presidents for 2020 and 2021. Kenny Rager was elected president for 2020, but resigned to accept a position on the KBC Mission Board staff.
Pastors’ Conference schedule
MONDAY, 2 P.M.
• Sexual Identity – Denny Burk, director of the Center for Gospel and Culture and a faculty member at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Panelists: Job Juarez, KBC church planting associate; Ray Green, Immanuel pastor; Todd Robertson, moderator, Louisville Regional associational mission strategist.
• Political Identity – Bruce Ashford, provost and professor of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Panelists: Tom Troth, pastor and KBC legislative agent; Steve Weaver, pastor and Capital Commission chaplain; Greg Faulls, Bellevue Baptist pastor; Brandon Porter, moderator, KBC director of communications.
MONDAY, 6:30 P.M.
• Racial Identity – Curtis Woods, KBC associate executive director for convention relations and assistant professor of applied theology and biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Panelists: Nate Bishop, pastor of Forest Baptist Church; Dan Summerlin, pastor of Lone Oak First Baptist Church; Todd Gray, moderator, KBC executive director-treasurer.
• Identity in Christ – J.D. Greear, SBC president and pastor of the Summit Church in Durham, N.C.