Feeding sheep is Founders’ focus

Feeding sheep is Founders’ focus

By Scott Lamb
Contributing Writer

ST. PETERS – Participants of the Southern Baptist Founders Conference Midwest gathered Feb. 27-28 at First Baptist Church here for fellowship and to hear messages under the theme “Feed My Sheep.”

Host Pastor Joe Braden, the current president of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Pastors’ Conference, opened the doors of his church to the conference, and minister of music Jerry Jessen led in robust congregational singing throughout the day.

Registration for the conference was about 170, with many other guests joining in as well.

“This year’s conference reinforced the Scriptures’ call for pastors and church leaders to experience spiritual transformation through faithfully feeding upon the Word of God so that we might be genuine instruments who can take the Word of God and feed God’s people.”

Tom Ascol, executive director of Founders Ministries, along with his brother Bill, also a board member, were the keynote speakers of the conference. Bill Ascol delivered two biographies on “Martin Lloyd-Jones” and “John Broadus.” Tom Ascol spoke on “Sound Doctrine: The Preacher’s Task” and “The Weight of the Scripture: The Spirit’s Authority.”

Regarding the preacher’s task to teach doctrine, Ascol said, “Churches and pastors now typically think of the pastoral ministry in professional categories. No longer are men of God called to lead churches primarily considered to be brokers of the truth, but rather they are considered to be professional therapists, or modeled after the corporate world in terms of the CEO or manager who can efficiently get things going in the local congregation. Doctrine is not regarded in many sectors of evangelicalism as that important to Gospel ministry.”

Ascol spoke about sermons full of moralism but devoid of Christology: “In conservative evangelical churches there are lots of sermons that are not Christian. If it will play in a synagogue or a Mormon Tabernacle as easy as it will play in a Baptist church, it is not a Christian sermon. There are sermons being preached that are God-centered, but not Christian because Christ is absent. I know that is true, because I have preached them, to my shame.”

“If we are going to take the principle of the analogy of Scripture seriously, and to realize that any one text must be interpreted in the light of all the text, we must ask the question, ‘What is all of the text about?’ And all of the text is about Jesus Christ. If we are going to be preachers given to sound doctrine, we must be preachers who are given to finding a legitimate understanding of where Christ is in the text.”

Preaching from Titus 1:1-9, Scott Lee, pastor of Rockport Baptist in Arnold, gave a strong exhortation to preachers to “Study, Encourage and Rebuke.” He gave personal testimony of the Pauline wisdom found in building pastoral ministry on the foundation of teaching the Word. Lee said, “I have found that as I go verse-by-verse through books of the Bible, I am afforded every opportunity that I need to explain the truth and to expose the lies.”

Lee said, “Pastors would do well to take to heart Paul’s instruction to Titus, ‘Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. What is the pastor’s chief duty? To so know and live the Word of God that you are able to use it to build up believers in sound doctrine and to refute the errors of false teachers.”

Jim Elliff, founder and president of Christian Communicators Worldwide, spoke from the parable of the soils (Matthew 13) about the grace of God’s Spirit that is necessary for understanding the Word of God. Elliff said, “Understanding the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven is something that is granted to some people, but is not given to other people.”

Elliff gave the example of a theology professor who perfectly lectures on the Christian doctrine of justification, only to go to the faculty lounge and declare to his fellow professors, “Only a fool would believe that!” Does that man really understand the doctrine he just spoke on? No he does not.

 “We find people able to educate their mind in such a way that they do not understand. Because when you understand, these being terminal truths, they have to affect your life. You cannot be negligent about them. You have to embrace them if you understand them as they really are.”

“You begin to see the Scripture as that which is beautiful, compelling, irresistible, lovely, sweet, needful, purposeful, and unavoidable. And why must you receive them like that? Because that is what they are!”

The remaining speakers included Pat Campbell, pastor Ridgecrest Baptist, St. Charles, and Curtis McClain, professor of Bible and director of Christian Studies at Missouri Baptist University.