Midwestern Seminary hosted a regional For the Church micro-conference at August Gate Church near St. Louis on Dec. 10, addressing the theme “Knowing and Applying God’s Word.” Keynote speakers for the event included Jason Allen, Jared Wilson, and Noah Oldham.
“The aim of the FTC micro-conferences we host is to equip and encourage ministry leaders toward their service in the local church,” said President Jason Allen. “The goal isn’t to make the attendees Midwestern Seminary’s biggest fans, but to show that we are their biggest fan. It’s the very reason we exist.
“Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Spurgeon College cares deeply about resourcing and equipping those called to ministry, and our goal is to provide a day where these local pastors and ministry leaders can be recharged, share in some fellowship, and jump back into their ministry contexts refreshed.”
In the conference’s first plenary session, Oldham, who serves as lead pastor at August Gate Church and Send City missionary for the North American Mission Board, exhorted the congregants on the topic “Preaching in a Missional Context,” as derived from 1 Timothy 4:6-16.
Oldham acknowledged that God is strategically working in mighty ways around the world. However, there are many threats that seek to derail God’s movement and distract the church’s mission. God’s answer to these concerns is that our churches have the right kind of teachers knowing and applying His word the right way.
As such, Oldham issued three challenges for leaders in the church: give people God’s Word, prescribe the Word of God, and toil and strive because of and for salvation.
To his first point, Oldham noted that God’s people need to see, hear, and recite God’s Word. “Don’t create your own ideologies and point people to them. Don’t read yet another book or go to another conference just to find another trend to bring home and put your own spin on it. Take the Bible and put it before your people and help them to know and apply the Word first.
“The people of God need the voice of God in their lives. The church needs a revival and a hunger for the voice of God. We need to preach the voice of God. We need to sing the voice of God. We need to study the voice of God in our classes, and we need to discuss the voice of God in our small groups.”
The next speaker, Allen, preached a message from 2 Timothy 2:15 on the topic “Knowing and Studying God’s Word.” Essentially, Allen said, he desired to have a talk with the group on the pastor’s preparation, why they should be devoted to study, and for them to leave the conference with a renewed commitment to be students of God’s Word.
Allen then noted seven reasons to be devoted to faithful study, which included: the character of scripture, the stewardship of one’s calling suggests he should be faithful, the prerequisite to teach as found in 2 Timothy 2:15, the needs of the church remind pastors of the need to be faithful in study, the cultural moment, the pastor’s spiritual nourishment, and the pastor’s self-respect.
About this last point, Allen said, “I don’t know about you, but if I’m lazy in my life or irresponsible in my life, it erodes my own sense of self-worth and self-respect. And if you’re going into the pulpit week-after-week and just heating up cold biscuits, pulling old sermon notes, and shuffling through without spending time in the study like you know you should, then over time you will lose respect for your own preaching ministry, your own ministerial office, and your own handling of the Word. You will find yourself drifting from the ministry to which the Lord has called you and set you apart.”
Allen concluded his message with 17 brief points of counsel and instruction concerning study and preparation. He urged pastors to be prayerful, to study early in the morning, to be well-resourced, to be inquisitive, to be humble, to not be dependent on commentaries, to be expositional and textual, and several others.
The conference’s final speaker was Wilson, who is assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Spurgeon College and author in residence at Midwestern Seminary. He covered the topic “Preaching and Gospel Application” from James 1:19-27.
In covering the topic, Wilson said he wanted to speak on how God’s word might be applied in a more personal context. And according to James’ letter, application is how to move from being a hearer of the Word to a doer of it.
Wilson offered three characteristics of being a biblical “doer,” including that faithful application begins on the inside, faithful application emerges from centering on the gospel, and faithful application terminates with the glory of God.
Ultimately, Wilson said, “Faithful application is not about self-improvement or self-actualization. Don’t tell your people that if they do steps one through four this week, they’re going to have a successful life or a healthy marriage or a fat bank account or any other soft legalism. This is nothing more than a quasi-prosperity gospel.
“Tell them the gospel has set them free from working for God’s approval, but to working for God’s glory. If we obey for credit, we deem Christ’s sacrifice insufficient, but we don’t even get to take the credit. The gospel empowers our works, so He gets the glory.”
In addition to the three main sessions, the audience had an opportunity to interact with the three speakers during a panel discussion entitled “Christianity and Culture.”
To view the micro-conference’s main sessions and panel discussion, visit mbts.edu/category/conferences/ftc/ftcstl/