The pastors, representing churches from every region of the state, were invited to the annual conference in Jacksonville through the initiative of Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, who saw the opportunity as an “investment in their ministry.”
“The desire of our Convention is to partner with best practice individuals in ministry,” said Green. “The Pastors’ Conference engages quality preaching and teaching. God placed it on my heart for the Convention to provide an opportunity for pastors from each region to attend.”
The annual Pastors’ Conference will feature inspiration and worship as sermons are presented by nearly 20 well known preachers from Jerry Vines, Paige Paterson, Mac Brunson and Junior Hill to Robbie Gallaty, H.B. Charles and Jim Cymbala. Dozens of seminars presented will equip the pastors in almost every phase of church life.
Funding the pastors’ attendance at the meeting “enables an important investment in the lives of our pastors,” Green said. He hopes to provide a similar experience for other pastors in the future.
‘Right Beside You’ is more than a slogan, he added, “but our identity as the Florida Baptist Convention.”
The Florida pastors’ wives were included, the state exec explained, in recognition of their unique role in ministry. “The conference offers a teaching segment for the wives of pastors. I wanted to provide the pastor’s wife with the same quality training that specifically targets her challenges in ministry.”
The Convention paid the couples’ registration fee and hotel accommodations. Meals are provided at the church and hotel. Also included are tickets for the wives to attend a special Pastors’ Wives Luncheon.
Darrell Jones, pastor of Lakeside Baptist Church in Perry, had once attended the Jacksonville conference with a fellow pastor, but he said their family budget would not permit the couple to attend together. As he anticipated the event, he said he looked forward “to spending time together with my wife, in community and worship with others who can relate to how we live and feel.”
“I firmly believe that a pastor needs feeding and leading from other pastors who are willing to share what they too have learned and are experiencing in their ministries.”
Jones has served at the North Florida congregation located just outside of the Perry city limits for the past five years. The church averages about 70 in attendance during morning worship service and touches the lives of 50 families.
Lakeside Baptist was started as a church plant 62 years ago to reach a growing paper mill population as residents moved in and out of the area during the early years of the church, Jones explained.
In the past two years, the children and student ministries have experienced significant growth “through a combined effort to refocus and restructure Wednesday evening activities,” said Jones. After prayer and conversation, the two ministries implemented an Awana approach to reach two age groups.
“This decision, to our amazement, has proven to be a much needed course-correction for the church, and God has truly shown His favor through it. We have nearly tripled our attendance for mid-week services, and have made quality investments in the lives of these kids, students and their families.”
His five years of service at the church, Jones said, was a “mile-marker” with this faith community. “We are excited to have invested this time in Perry, and look forward to the days ahead as we work alongside these people who have become like family to us.”
Toney Hill, pastor of Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton, has always wanted to attend the Jacksonville Pastors’ Conference, “but I have been unable to swing it.
“The Convention offered to sponsor us and we jumped on the offer. I have always heard great things about the conference and am looking forward to the time of inspiration when I am not the one preaching.”
Hill and his wife, Joy, are bringing their six children. A seventh is on the way.
He applauded the availability of childcare at the meeting. “Most of the conferences or conventions that I have been to do not understand the need for childcare for the younger pastors,” he said. “Most have been designed as a get-away. But to be honest most pastors don’t have anyone to leave one child with much less six.”
The pastor has served the church, located in the southern part of Manatee County, since August. “We are a diverse crowd with a diverse age group,” he explained. “We have seen the Lord bless us almost every week with new members and a multitude of visitors.
“God has done great things and we are looking to be used even more in the future.”
by Barbara Denman, Florida Baptist Convention, January 29, 2016