Danny Wood knew from the beginning he wanted the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors Conference (PC) in Birmingham to tell a story — a story of what it looks like for pastors and other Christians to lean into who the word of God says they should be.
So over the many months leading up to the June 9–10 conference, that’s what Wood, PC president and pastor of Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Birmingham, put together with the help of the Shades Mountain staff — messages, music, videos, stories and even a book about living out the Kingdom character found in the Beatitudes.
“My hope is that it would give us a renewed commitment to living out the gospel, that we would be committed to seeing our lives transformed with the character of Christ,” Wood said in the days leading up to the conference. “We are seeing Satan getting more and more active — his desire is to see pastors fail. We need to finish strong and cross the finish line, and to do that we’ve got to maintain Kingdom character so we can live out the gospel and reach this world for Christ.”
Now that the conference is over, he said he prays the several thousand people who attended walked away transformed.
“The speakers to me could not have done a better job; they were so on point,” Wood said, noting that he invited speakers who “couldn’t just preach about it but were living out the Beatitudes.”
Hearing from Alabamians
Gripping stories and messages from two Alabama Baptist preachers and a couple with Alabama roots opened the conference June 9.
“God has called us to be countercultural, peculiar, unique, different, so we stand out and face the world with a gospel that is not adulterated or mixed,” said Robert Smith Jr., the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, who opened with an overview of the Beatitudes.
Over the rest of the conference other speakers focused on individual Beatitudes.
Ed Litton, pastor of Redemption Church, Mobile, closed the first night with Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn,” sharing the story of losing his wife, Tammy, in a tragic car accident.
In between the two preachers, Jay and Katherine Wolf — founder of Hope Heals and son and daughter-in-law of Jay Wolf, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montgomery — shared the story of the massive brain stem stroke that left Katherine disabled at 26 years old.
“Not many of you have had a brain stem stroke, but I guarantee you’ve had hard stuff in your story,” said Katherine, who along with Jay spoke on “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3).
Jay Wolf said the poverty of spirit believers have comes from giving what they have away.
‘You’ve been given hope’
“We get to go back to these places of our wounding and not only find healing for ourselves but other people too,” he said. “You’ve been given hope not so that you can be hopeful … but so you can give it away.”
The next morning, David Platt, pastor of the Washington, D.C.-area McLean Bible Church and former pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, talked about meekness — something he said he had learned a lot about in the week leading up to the conference. On June 2 at his church, he had stepped off stage after the Lord’s Supper and been told President Donald Trump was stopping by and wanted the church to pray with Him.
“As a result of that prayer and that letter (of explanation) on Sunday night I would find myself at the center of a social media firestorm,” he said. “Why do I share this? I am guessing I’m not the only pastor in this room who is coming into the conference after a hard week.”
He then encouraged pastors and Christians to both act and react in meekness, calmly and joyfully trusting God, and he prayed for pastors who were walking through tough days in their life and ministry.
Over the rest of the conference six other speakers continued the theme Kingdom Character through the Beatitudes. The event also included two roundtable discussions, one on racial reconciliation and one on persecution.
Coverage of individual speakers’ messages will be published in upcoming issues of The Alabama Baptist.
Wood said he was “thrilled” about how the conference went.
“The Lord was lifted up, and hopefully people were challenged and encouraged,” he said.
To watch the full sermons, visit sbcpc.net.
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