After recuperating from our travels I wanted to sum up the refreshment that we received at the conference this year. While the attendance was somewhat down, the spirit was clearly on the up side.
First of all, I want to say that the members of FBC Jax are wonderful people. It truly is a joy to see the same men opening doors, shaking hands, and greeting people that we saw opening doors, shaking hands, and greeting people back in 2004. Andy Anderson, Bill Broyles, Ed, and others that I’m not sure of their names, have been there greeting us, and welcoming us year after year, and it’s become a wonderful tradition to shake their hands, and hear their happiness on an annual basis.
From eating lunch with the members, to striking up conversations in the hallways, one thing was said more often than anything else, and that was how much they loved Mac Brunson. With all genuineness, and care, it seemed as if they wanted us to know that they cherished their pastor. Their servant like spirit, and contagious enthusiasm is worth the visit alone. They are precious people. The Lindseys and Vines, raised a great crop of Christians who live to love the Lord and His people.
I was relieved to hear over and over again, “whosoever will” from the main session speakers. Sometimes subtle, sometimes emphasized, but the thought and direction were prevalent in the sessions that we sat through this year. There were a couple sessions that we excused ourselves from, and a couple of speakers that we cannot recommend. All in all, the “theological errors” while still there, were fewer, and sound solid Biblical baptist teaching much stronger.
One recommendation that I would give, and a change that I would make, would be to give Jim Whitmire a main session of teaching. His seminar on leading worship was outstanding, and worthy of every pastor’s attention. It was not just a class that “music men” needed to hear, but was a seminar that the pastors needed as well.
I do wish that the “marketing” within the conference would diminish. I appreciate that books are made available for us to purchase, and I do purchase some, that’s not a problem. One thing that I do not like or attend (anymore) are the seminars on “Capital Campaigns”, or “Marketing your Ministry”. The Lord pays for what He orders, and doesn’t need the “latest strategy” to accomplish that. I have pastored or associate pastored through 2 building programs, (roughly 2 – 2 1/2 million dollars worth) and all buildings constructed or capital improvements within my pastorates were either debt free upon completion, or shortly thereafter. I know that’s not much compared to FBC Jax, but it’s alot where I come from. Nor does the Lord need the ministry marketed. Vance Havner said one time, “I’ve never done any politicking to get to preach anywhere. You don’t need to know key men to get along. You need to know the ‘Keeper of the Keys’.
I know many men disagree with me on those two issues and that is their perogative. I’ve merely stated my opinion on that.
As for next year, we are looking forward to attending again, Lord willing. We did experience true refreshing and renewing. My prayer is that the conference will become more and more like Truett-McConnell College, “Biblically Centered – Distinctively Baptist.” That will be a Change Worth Making.