Pastors challenged to seek God’s power
Dec 5, 2012
By DAVID ROACH
WITNESS Correspondent

ORLANDO (FBW)—Relying on God’s power rather than their own is the only way for pastors to be effective in ministry, said speakers during the 2012 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference Nov. 11-12 at First Baptist Church in Orlando.

Attendees heard messages from Florida Baptist pastors Mac Brunson, Jim Henry and Ted Traylor—and from other speakers Dennis Swanberg, Roc Collins, Adam Dooley, Kevin Cosby and Anthony George.

Conference President Stephen Rummage, pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, organized the conference and led the business session. The new officers elected were Michael Lewis, pastor, First Baptist Church, Plant City, president for 2014; Benny Keck, pastor, First Baptist Church, Dover, first-vice president; and Jose Abella, pastor and church planter, Providence Road Church, Miami, second-vice president. Brad White, pastor, LifePoint, Tampa, is president for the 2013 Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Jacksonville.

WORSHIP A praise team from Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon leads music during the Florida Baptist Pastor’ Conference in Orlando.. Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
Musicians from Bell Shoals led worship.

DENNIS SWANBERG

Swanberg, a humorist widely known as “America’s minister of encouragement,” told pastors to remember their calling from God when circumstances cause discouragement.

“I don’t care if you get fired or if you get pushed out or shoved out or influenced out or they create hell for you to where you finally get out of the kitchen. When you’re called, you’re called,” he said. “… Be a minister. If you’re selling cars or insurance or cutting grass, you’re a minister.”

Swanberg mixed encouragement with jokes and voice impersonations, including that of Billy Graham, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also discussed his experience as a pastor before entering the fulltime speaking ministry 18 years ago.

DENNIS SWANBERG
Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
Pastors in the local church are his heroes, Swanberg said, because they meet the needs of the same flock every day and persevere through trials.

“Don’t be afraid of what they can do to you,” he said of congregations. “Be in awe of what God wants you to do and how He wants you to live.”

God’s love is a powerful motivation to faithfulness, according to Swanberg.

“He knows where you are when you’re scared and you’re wondering what’s going to happen to you,” he said.

Reflecting on his own experiences, Swanberg told ministers that God will always take care of them. When he first launched into fulltime speaking, Swanberg had very few engagements on his calendar, he said, but providentially James Dobson played some of his material on the radio and jumpstarted his ministry. God also intervened at important points along the journey, he said, as when He provided encouragement after Swanberg received a critical letter from a pastor.

“I want to encourage you with your one life to make it count,” he said. “And go for it. And when you do, have a good time doing it.”

MAC BRUNSON

Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, said thanksgiving can help turn despair into joy and hope—sentiments that are desperately needed today.

“I don’t know that I ever remember a time in my life, and certainly in my ministry, when people seemed to be in more despair than they are right now,” he said. “And I don’t mean people in the world. I’m talking about people in the church.”

Preaching from Hebrews 12, he listed two things for which believers should be thankful. First, we should be thankful for the God of a new covenant.

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