Blake Kersey says this year’s Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference is going to be different.
For one thing, it’s going to start later. It’s only going to have four sermons instead of eight. It’s going to include both lunch and dinner. And it’s going to have scholarships available for hotel stays and mileage.
All of these changes have a purpose, said Kersey, this year’s conference president and lead pastor of First Baptist Church, Decatur.
“I have a heart for two separate groups of people I’m hoping that as Southern Baptists and as Alabama Baptists that we can wrap our arms around and say, ‘We see you, we see you working in the fields, and we value you,’” he said.
Those two groups are small church pastors and bivocational pastors, both of whom have faced a lot of difficult, exhausting days over the past year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The revamped format — four sermons that address topics relevant to pastors, each followed by a 45-minute question-and-answer time — aims to equip pastors and cut down on sermon fatigue, he said.
The conference will start Nov. 15 at 11:30 a.m. with a lunch workshop on sermon preparation led by Robert Smith, the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. Smith will then lead the first afternoon session on the topic of finding your identity. in Christ, not as a pastor.
Over the rest of the day, three others will share. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, will talk about how to protect your family while serving in the church.
Traylor Lovvorn, executive director of Undone Redone, will talk about how to have conversations in your church about pornography. And evangelist Junior Hill will talk about how to deal with criticism and discouragement in the church.
The format might change again next year, Kersey said — each year the president charts the course of the conference. But he felt “we needed to take a deep breath and just encourage our pastors” this year, he said.
Pastors can use the contact form at albaptistpc.com to ask about the 100 scholarships available, provided by generous donations from churches, Kersey said.