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Midwestern Seminary Hosts For the Church Micro-Conference at SBC24 on “The Future of the SBC”

Posted June 11, 2024 by Michaela Classen

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—Midwestern Seminary hosted a For the Church Micro-Conference during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 11 in Indianapolis. Nearly 1,400 attendees gathered for a panel discussion on the topic “The Future of the SBC” and worship music by Sandra McCracken.

To open the conference, McCracken led the audience in singing three original hymns, “Steadfast,” “We Will Feast in the House of Zion,” and “Come Thou Fount.”

Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Seminary, then led the panel conversation featuring Paul Chitwood, Kevin Ezell, Clint Pressley, and Jeff Iorg. Panelists addressed the responsibilities facing Southern Baptists and shared their hopes for the convention’s ongoing role in the Great Commission.

Allen opened the panel conversation by asking speakers their greatest concern for Southern Baptists. Reflecting on the missional drive that characterizes SBC churches, panelists cautioned Southern Baptists to remember their unity in the Great Commission as they navigate disagreements, especially on social media.

Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., and nominee for president of the SBC, shared, “We are people that are hopeful, joyful, and driven. We like to deal with the mission. I like us to be known for that.”

Noting the way social media can amplify the negative impact of an issue, Iorg, president of the SBC Executive Committee, warned Southern Baptists against unnecessary divisions from their shared mission.

Allen then highlighted the encouragement of seeing missionaries commissioned during the SBC annual meeting. Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board, noted the additional number of missionaries who could not be identified publicly due to security risks in the places where they are going.

Expressing his gratitude for the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptist churches to send missionaries to the lost, Chitwood said, “What we’re able to do together as an organization of Southern Baptists and at the IMB is such a special and unique thing. We have the ability to get people into the hardest places in the world and to keep them there because of the giving, the prayers, and the 179-year-old sending agency that has been entrusted with resources that give us that ability.”

He added, “Thank God for those who are willing to go, pay the price, be arrested and interrogated, for the sake of Christ, knowing Southern Baptists are behind them.”

Echoing Chitwood’s gratitude, Allen spoke of Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College’s Fusion programs that train and send students to share the gospel in hard-to-reach and often unreceptive places around the globe. He concluded, “Collectively, let’s praise God that He is indeed redeeming a people from every tribe and every nation, and that number is growing by the minute.”

Allen then asked Pressley to share his heart for serving the SBC if elected president. After briefly sharing his history as a Southern Baptist church member and pastor, Pressley said, “I’m thankful for the discipleship I received in the Baptist church, the adherence to God’s Word, the press toward conversion and call for the preaching of the cross, the joy of fellowship, the autonomy of the church—all those things that make us Baptist.”

He added, “We should be a people that are glad to press toward God’s good intention for mankind in the gospel.”

In response, Allen encouraged the audience with the hope of Christ’s sure victory despite the opposition of culture. “We can be a happy people knowing that even if we lose in this world, we are surely going to win in the next.”

To close the conversation, Allen asked the panel to share what they are praying for the SBC as they look ahead to the close of the decade in 2030.

Chitwood called for Southern Baptists to be “laser-focused on the world’s greatest problem,” noting his goal to see the IMB’s missionaries grow to 4,000 and expanded cooperative efforts of global Baptists to reach the lost.

Ezell, who serves as the president of the North American Mission Board, shared the importance of integrating new church plants into the efforts of the SBC’s missionary efforts and Cooperative Program. He said, “If Southern Baptists continue to plant churches at the rate we are, then by 2030, one third of the SBC would have been planted since 2010.”

Pressley encouraged Southern Baptists to hold fast to the gospel and their church-planting mission amid an opposing culture. Iorg shared his vision for the Executive Committee to excel in its work to equip Southern Baptists for ever-increasing focus on church planting and missions.

Allen concluded the micro-conference with an expression of gratitude for Southern Baptists and his hope in God’s continued work through the denomination. “Southern Baptists are a great people—Jesus-loving, Bible-believing, and gospel-sharing. I believe in us and our work.”

Join us for our For the Church National Conference in Kansas City on September 23–24. Learn more here.

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