I was very thankful and humbled to be invited by my pastors Billy Raies and Allen Dicharry to speak with Sovereign Grace Church Midland a few weeks ago about my experience at the Pastors Conference last month. Perhaps I can edify with a testimony…
The first sermon I ever preached was from 2 Timothy 2 where Paul says to Timothy, his dear son in the faith,
“…be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
That verse has been a guiding beacon for me in over 10 years of ministry. This is a charge that has ripple effects for the whole church, in how we think about ministry and how the kingdom of God moves forward.
This year at the Pastors Conference, the theme from Christ’s words in Matthew 18 of “I Will Build My Church” resonated loud and clear through each sermon and speaker and virtually every conversation I engaged in. Pastors and their wives from all over the United States and many counties were in attendance to be served and encouraged and refreshed together.
The student of preaching that I aim to be, that aspect was certainly a highlight:
- We were reminded so well by H.B. Charles on what it means to dearly love the Church
- We were emboldened by Jeff Purswell in meditating on Christ’s confident words that He will build His church in spite of hell’s best efforts to derail her.
- We were sobered by CJ Mahaney’s recounting of Paul’s lonely final days, reminding us that the throes of ministry can often be painful and cold, and yet there is such steadfast hope in the final day of Christ
- We were energized by Rich Richardson’s presentation of Sovereign Grace’s global strategy for planting churches, and reports of what God is doing right now through church planting efforts
- We were invigorated by Jared Mellinger’s reminder that the miraculous power to preach and teach and encourage and equip comes to the expectant believer through the Spirit
Paul’s charge to Timothy involves four generations: Paul to Timothy, Timothy to faithful men, faithful men to others also, and on and on. Pastor Jon Payne from the Round Rock, TX, church emphasized this in his message about Sovereign Grace’s gospel heritage, and how our legacy’s content is the the gospel. The gospel is what we center on and aim to pass to the next generation. Not our quirks and idiosyncrasies and hobbyhorses, but the main things. Not the backroom, one-off conversations, but our story and song, the heart of the faith.
The family of Sovereign Grace Churches is about the business of making disciples who make disciples. Planting churches who send disciples out to plant more churches. That’s what stimulated to my heart so!
Even before we came to SGC Midland, I have had a personal desire for and a sense of calling for pastoral ministry. I have appreciated and followed the various ministries of the Sovereign Grace Family of churches prior to becoming a member of Sovereign Grace Church of Midland. I’m so thankful that our pastors have encouraged and helped me to continue exploring my calling and were receptive when I asked if I could attend the conference with them.
Even the regional sessions together, that discussed various business and logistical details, were so knit together in love and unity for each other as the bonds of gospel partnership were strengthened and deepened. And there was such affection for Allen and Billy in their roles within the region as fellow brothers-in-arms. What a neat thing to see.
I’ve been to several pastoral and preaching conferences over the years, but the 3 days I spent observing the zeal and energy of these men and women focused on making the name of Christ renowned to every tribe and tongue and nation grew in me such renewed affection for Christ and for His Church. In particular, for SGC Midland. They have welcomed me and my family with such kindness and grace. Such love for these dear people.
I’m so eager to see how God might open doors for me and my family in ministry, but even more so to grow with you in the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified, and to bear witness of the unmerited work that He has begun in me.