Jacksonville's H.B. Charles Jr. shares stage at Pastors’ Conference
Jul 7, 2014
By BARBARA DENMAN & KEVIN BUMGARNER

BALTIMORE—H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, shared the stage with such renowned preachers as David Platt, Ronnie Floyd and Rick Warren during the Southern Baptist Convention’s two-day Pastors’ Conference June 8-9.

He was the only Florida pastor to preach during the four sessions, which were loosely bound together by the theme “Show Us Your Glory.”
 
Citing Philippians 1:3-8, Charles urged pastors and churches to focus on the partnership found in the Gospel rather than the needs of a collection of individuals.
 
H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, speaks during the opening session June 8 at the 2014 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center. Photo by Matt Miller/BP
“There was a time when the church saw themselves as pilgrims traveling together through a foreign land on their way home,” Charles said, but churches are now “prone to view ourselves as tourists who happen to be on the same bus with differing and competing interests, priorities and agendas. 
 
“As a result, world philosophies like individualism, relativism, subjectivism and pragmatism dominate church life.”
 
The dynamics of the Gospel found in this passage, Charles said, are the affirmation of thankfulness, prayer and partnership.
 
“No matter what situation, if you are not a grateful person, you are not walking in the will of God,” he admonished.
 
Thanksgiving leads to continual prayer, Charles said, adding that even the hardships the apostle Paul encountered ultimately led to the furtherance of the Gospel. While the church at Philippi was not a perfect church, it brought much joy for Paul to pray for them.
 
Charles, describing Paul’s view of the church, said followers of Christ are yoked together as partners, bound by a Christian fellowship and partnership that is greater, deeper and stronger than geographical locations or physical structures, worship styles or ministries.
Charles was one of three pastors to speak on Sunday evening.
 
The other two were Floyd, who would later in the week be voted the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Platt.
 
“We cannot deny where we are,” said Floyd, the senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, referring to the significant drop in baptisms among many Southern Baptist churches. “Would you agree with that? We can’t just look the other way and pretend it will go away. The greatest need in the Southern Baptist Convention is to see a great awakening.”
 
Sticking with the theme of “Show us Your Glory,” Platt, who is senior pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., started his message by asking this question: “How does this insatiable hunger for the glory of God happen in my life, your life and the churches we lead?”
 
He then went on use Moses as an example of how this could work, and he showed attendees 25 different names for God from Psalm 68.
 
On Monday, messages were delivered by Johnny Hunt, Clayton King, Eric Mason, J.D. Greear, Alex Himaya, Rick Warren, James MacDonald and Francis Chan.
 
Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Woodstock in Woodstock, Ga., spoke about “The Glory of Making Him Known,” from Psalm 126; he made the following five points: The writer begins with a remarkable event, followed by rejoicing expressions, a recognized experience, a redeemed expression and a refreshing retreat.
 
King, evangelist with Clayton King Ministries, talked about “God’s Glory in Giving Up,” using 1 Kings 19 as his main text. King talked to pastors and others in attendance about ways to avoid burnout in their ministries. He encouraged those in attendance to schedule times to get away, get alone with God, get honest with God, get rested and fed, get up and get back to work.
 
“If we are not careful we will quit,” King said. “So let’s give up to Jesus before we get to that point.”
 
Mason, founder and lead pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, talked about “Glorifying God through a Godly resolve,” based on Ephesians 5.
 
Pastors must resolve to live a life of spiritual discernment, resolve that they will maximize every “season” the Lord gives them and resolve that the Lord will be the strongest influence in their lives.
 
Greear talked about the importance and power of the Holy Spirit in helping the church reach people who are lost in post-Christian America.
He said churches should start focusing on their “sending” ability and not just “seating” capacity as a sign of their health and success going forward.
 
Greear, the lead pastor at Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., said it is going to get harder to get non-Christians into our churches, so reaching people apart from church events and official evangelism opportunities is going to become more important.
 
Himaya, the founding and senior pastor of The Church at BattleCreek in Tulsa, Okla., told those in attendance that churches have made evangelism too complicated. 
 
“I know we’ve heard a lot of statistics and things about how our denomination is dying,” Himaya said. “But I just want to say: ‘I’ve read the end of the Book, and we win!’ ”
 
Later, he added: “In the end, when we kick the devil in the teeth, we win by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.”
 
The most emotional message of the conference was given by Warren to start the Monday evening session.
 
The 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 their 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 altar 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.”
 
2015 SBC Pastors’ Conference officers
 
Officers for the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference, which will be in Columbus, Ohio, were selected June 9 at this year’s meetings in Baltimore.
 
Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Church, which has campuses in Clearwater and East Lake, will serve as president of the 2015 Pastors’ Conference.
 
Jeremy Westbrook, lead pastor of Living Hope Church in Marysville, Ohio, will serve as vice president, and Drew Landry, senior pastor at Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Va., will serve as secretary.

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