Las Cruces (BNM) - Pastors and lay church leaders from across New Mexico met Oct. 23 for the annual Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference preceding the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s 2018 Annual Meeting at Mesilla Park Community Church, Las Cruces.

The conference provided an opportunity for pastors and lay church leaders to gather together for worship, teaching, fellowship and conference business. Outgoing conference president Nathan Sherman called the meeting to order and opened the floor for presidential nominations. One man in the audience nominated Sherman for a second term, and another man seconded the nomination. After no others were nominated, Sherman moved to carry the motion. The motion was carried, and Sherman will continue as conference president until next year’s meeting. Sherman is co-pastor of Christ Church, Albuquerque.

Drew Hodge of Desert Springs, Albuquerque, led worship, singing three hymns. Following worship, Sherman introduced the conference’s keynote speaker, Jared Wilson. Wilson is the director for content strategy and managing editor of For The Church at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as the director of the Pastoral Training Center at Liberty Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.   

The theme of the conference was “The Pastor’s Justification,” taken from Wilson’s book of the same name. In the first of two teaching sessions, Wilson argued for the centrality of the Gospel message in pastoral preaching. The teaching centered on three main points: the foundational Gospel is unimprovable, the foundational Gospel is non-negotiable and the foundational Gospel is supernatural.

Wilson urged pastors to wed their “ministry to the foolishness of the Gospel” rather than attempting to bring people into their churches through unhealthy seeker-sensitive strategies, adding that “the Gospel is not made more powerful by a dynamic preacher or a rocking worship band.” “These things can ornate the Gospel but they cannot enhance it,” he said.

Following a 10-minute break and another time of worship, Wilson led a second teaching session, titled, “The Pastor’s Vindication.” That session focused on two false gods of pastoral ministry: the false god of the ideal congregation and the false god of ministry success. 

Rebuking secular models of success, which often creep into the pastorate, Wilson said, “success is faithfulness. God’s approval of you is not based on your production.” Wilson encouraged pastors to remember that their crown of glory does not depend on their production, but on Christ’s justification.

The event concluded with a time of reflection. Pastors and lay church leaders split into small groups and discussed how Wilson’s teachings could be applied in their own lives and ministries. 

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