Ministers from across the state of Arkansas had the opportunity to learn from Noe Garcia, H.B. Charles, Jr., Nick Floyd and Robby Gallaty when they gathered last Monday for the annual Pastors’ Conference.
The day, along with the Annual Meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, was centered around a cohesive theme: “Compelled.” Pastors were encouraged to heed to the Holy Spirit and allow His presence in their lives to push them forward in powerful ministry.
Floyd, who served as this year’s president of the Pastors’ Conference and is senior pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, began the afternoon of Oct. 25 by stating, “we really don’t need another conference; we need an encounter with God today.”
After a team from Cross Church led in worship, as they did for the remainder of the day, Garcia opened the Word of God to 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. Comparing the “despair” of Paul in this passage to the run-down state pastors can easily find themselves in, Garcia called ministry a “painful privilege.”
“It is painful because the people that you have poured into, the people that you have given your life to, the people that you have served [and] the people you have discipled end up hurting you the deepest. It’s painful because the staff you bring in and the staff you take a chance on and the staff you disciple can end up being the Judases of your life. It’s painful because…there’s only so much we can do as human beings. And it’s painful when we recognize our own shortcomings as leaders,” Garcia said. “But it’s a privilege because the Creator of the universe, before we were in our mother’s womb, chose us to accomplish His holy work and holy task. It’s a privilege because He would use such broken sinners to do a work for such a great Savior. It’s a painful privilege.”
Illustrating some of his own heartache, Garcia candidly discussed the ups and downs he has faced in ministry. God ultimately led him to an important realization: “the enemy of ministry is self-sufficiency.”
H.B. Charles, Jr., pastor and teacher at Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida, echoed the same lesson in the second message of the morning.
“Christianity is about a person,” Charles said, and that person is Jesus Christ.
Charles focused in on Jesus’ words in Matthew 16 and who Christianity is really about.
“If revival is going to come to our land, brothers and sisters, we have to remember it doesn’t happen by our own flesh and blood,” Charles said.
Charles emphasized that it is the Holy Spirit who does the work, saying “the church does not belong to pastors, members or denominations,” because “Jesus says it is ‘my church.’”
“Jesus didn’t come to build families, businesses or countries,” Charles said. “Families may separate. Businesses may close. Nations will fall. But the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has eternal security.”
During the evening session, Floyd spoke on the need for “a deeper dependence on the Holy Spirit” not only for one’s own personal walk with Christ but especially those who “do ministry for a living.”
He talked about how pastors often falsely believe that they are capable, whether it concerns personal growth or leading a church in life-changing ministry. Floyd had a simple, yet bold, statement to discourage pastors from independency.
“You can’t do it…It’s the Spirit of God that makes the progress,” Floyd said. “God can change anything in your life…God can change anything in your church.
He spurred them to create “margin” in their lives to allow the Holy Spirit to work.
The evening concluded with a sermon from Gallaty, senior pastor at Long Hollow Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In his message from Hebrews 11, Gallaty spoke on “an audience of one,” starting off with an important question for each pastor in the room: “who do you preach for?”
By modeling Enoch’s by-faith and well-pleasing walk with the Lord, Gallaty listed several truths about living for Jesus’ approval alone, saying that “you cannot please God and fear man at the same time,” “you can’t please God and promote self at the same time” and “you can’t please God and criticize others at the same time.”
Ultimately, Gallaty reminded pastors that “there is more of God to have” and spurred them to live with the intent of pleasing no one but Jesus, further compelling pastors to rely on the Holy Spirit to remain faithful.
The night concluded with Arkansas Baptists crowding the altar of the church, casting a positive tone for the remainder of the Annual Meeting.
Ronnie Deal was voted to serve as president of next year’s Pastors’ Conference, Kim Bridges was voted to serve as vice president and Roderick Rogers was voted to serve as secretary.