Almost a year ago, I wrote an article entitled, “First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida Pastors Conference” giving brief history and personal opinion of my attendance and experience with the conference. Now almost a year later, that one article is still getting the lion’s share of hits on this particular blog. Since I first published that article, the search engines have taken people to it virtually every day, and multiple times at that.
A lot has happened since I first posted that article. Lawsuits have been filed and to some degree settled, Ergun Caner’s life has endured a virtual autopsy, the teachers of the tithe, and the “rejectors” of Calvinism, have seemed to hold captive the primary attention of those who criticize pastors and conservative Baptists ad nauseum; and the Obama express dropped 2 wheels off the tracks during the elections. I’m sure that I’ve left some things out, but that’s just what is coming off the top of my head right now.
Now to the coming conference.
First, what I’m not interested in.
I’m not a Presbyterian for specific reasons. They do not teach what the Bible teaches in certain particular areas, especially when it comes to the doctrines of Election, and the doctrine of Baptism, not to mention their teachings on the church. As I have said in a previous post, I am not interested in crossing denomination lines, because most of the time those denominational lines are doctrinal lines, and I am not interested in crossing those.
I am not interested in “cutting edge” ministry. A friend of mine once told me, that when it comes to “cutting edge” ministry you will either get cut or you’ll fall off the edge. I am more of a Jeremiah 6:16 guy, “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” The first thing about the conference years ago that captured my affection was it’s “Old Fashionedness” of philosophy; Calvinism was wrong, Seeker Sensitive was silly, Baptist distinctives were Biblical distinctives and not “matters of interpretation.” The “methods” of ministry were to be as Biblical as the “message” of the ministry. (See previous article about Calvin Carr)
I’m not as interested in “Big Time Preachers” as I am in “Big Time Preaching.” I don’t have to hear the men who have “the fame” I want to hear the men who preach the facts. I have no doubt there are some magnificent pulpiteers who are sure footed doctrinaires, that hardly anyone past their church ever hears about. I am not opposed at all to hearing the big name preachers, as long as they are doing the right kind of preaching.
Second, What I am Looking forward to:
I always look forward to hearing men like David Allen, Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, Emir Caner, Junior Hill, Fred Luter, Johnny Hunt, John Sullivan, Chuck Kelly, Mac Brunson and Danny Akin.
I always look forward to the music ministry of FBCJax. Every time I leave feeling as though I have lifted my voice to the Lord with purity, and not ritually.
I always look forward to the people. We have greeted the same ushers and same attendants every year for the last 7 or 8 years. They are without a doubt some of the cream of the Lord’s crop in Jacksonville, Florida. Much of our joy from the conference comes just by interacting with the people from the church. What a blessing!
Third, what I would like to see:
Jim Whitmire be given a main session teaching on worship. I have sat through his classes behind the stage, and without stutter or stammer, they belong in front of the stage. Although he is not a preacher, he is most definitely a well qualified teacher when it comes to the issue of Biblical worship, and everyone there needs to experience him.
Bring back Bailey. I have always enjoyed Bailey Smith, and have never understood why he is no longer a regular at this meeting. I would love to bring him, David Jeremiah, Charles Stanley, and a few no name men that I know who can preach the Bible among the very best.
One thing that I would like to see is full sermons in main sessions from men and years gone by. Put on the screens, W.A. Criswell, Homer Lindsay Jr., and of course, Adrian. The messages that they preached then, are applicable now, and it is their kind of preaching that is needed today.
Now all of that being said, I am generally looking forward to the conference. I can certainly say that a good dose of what things were like there 20 years ago, would be a welcome change worth making.