Bowling Green — Preachers took turns challenging Kentucky Baptists to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in their local communities, across the country and around the world.
“You have already been a witness for Christ today,” Eastwood Baptist Church Pastor Tom James told hundreds of church leaders gathered at Living Hope Baptist Church for the Kentucky Baptist Pastors’ Conference. “The question is what kind of a witness.”
James, who was elected as convention president the following day, reminded Kentucky Baptists that witnesses in a court of law tell what they have seen and heard, and that’s precisely what Christians are to do as well.
Between the preaching, the pastors elected Bill Langley, pastor of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, to serve as their president in 2016. He was nominated for the post by Paducah pastor Dan Summerlin.
“If you have a job to do, get a leader,” Summerlin said in his nomination speech. “If you have an important job to do, get an experienced leader. Bill is a leader.”
Langley joined Severns Valley in March 2009. Since his arrival, Summerlin said Langley has led the church to increase its Cooperative Program giving—from 8 percent of its undesignated receipts to 10 percent. Total CP contributions for 2013-14 were $303,484.
A former Muslim-turned-Christian missionary, whose identity was concealed for security reasons, urged Kentucky church leaders to always be ready to offer an explanation for their hope in Christ, wherever that explanation is needed.
“Are we willing to go where the need is the greatest?” he asked Kentucky Baptists before telling them there is only one missionary for every 500,000 Muslims.
“And God is saying: ‘Look, you don’t want to go there? Great, I’m bringing them to your neighborhood,’” he said.
The unidentified missionary called for Kentucky Baptists to see Muslims as people in need of salvation, and people for whom Jesus died.
Thomas White, president of Cedarville University in Ohio, called pastors his “heroes” and challenged them to preach the Bible.
“We believe in an inerrant, infallible Bible, an exclusive gospel, and we’re not going to compromise on either one,” White said. “We believe in a six-day, literal creation. We believe that Adam and Eve were literal people. We believe that Noah really did get on an ark, and there was a flood. … We believe it just like the Bible says it.”
Florida pastor Jimmy Scroggins, a former dean of Boyce College who is now leading First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Fla., called on church leaders to be tenacious in sharing the gospel.
“If we’re going to actually make a difference, the way the culture is changing, we’re going to have to start fighting from the bottom of the pile,” Scroggins said. “And we’re going to have to think bigger and better and differently and more aggressively than we ever have before.”
David Allen, dean of theology at Southwestern Seminary, urged church leaders to love more intensely.
“Love is the evidence and essence of the Christian life,” he said.
Evangelist and former Southern Baptist Convention President Jerry Vines closed out the Pastors’ Conference by challenging Kentucky pastors through his life verse, Psalm 126:6, “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (see related story.) (KBC)