2014 SBC ANNUAL MEETING
Rick Warren, James MacDonald and Francis Chan wrapped up the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastors’ Conference in Baltimore on Monday night.
Warren, who is senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., talked about the pain he and his wife have been going through during the last 12 months since his 27-year-old son, Matthew, committed suicide.
“Last year was the worst year of my life,” Warren said, adding that despite the hurt he knows God uses suffering in a variety of ways: to direct him, inspect him, correct him, protect him and perfect him.
Then he asked those in attendance: How can you use your pain for God’s glory? He offered five ways:
► Use the pain to draw closer to God;
► Use the pain to draw close to other people;
► Use the pain to become more like Jesus;
► Use the pain to help others;
► Use the pain as a witness to the world.
He also encouraged attendees to get beyond the natural urge to ask “why?” when tragedy strikes.
“You don’t need an explanation,” Warren explained. “What you need is the presence of God. You trying to understand the ways of God is like an ant trying to understand the internet.”
He ended by holding an alter call for those who had pains in their life. After dozens of people went forward, he prayed for the entire group.
MacDonald, the senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, gave a sobering talk about the future of U.S. churches.
“The church in America is choking on what they think is better than God,” MacDonald said. “Church is supposed to be a window-rattling, life-altering encounter with the God of the universe.”
He said the problems facing U.S. churches are not going to be solved by better technique.
He also said that he gets asked by many people when they should leave a church. His response: “My best answer: When God doesn’t show up.”
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