On Tuesday, February 18, I learned that the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee voted to disallow the use of the 2020 SBC venue at the Orange County Convention Center for the 2020 Pastors’ Conference unless we adjust the program of the Pastors Conference to meet the approval of the Executive Committee officers. The action issued a deadline of February 24 for me to decide if we are going to submit an amended program.
Yesterday, in separate phone calls I informed J.D. Greear, President of the SBC, Ronnie Floyd, Executive Committee, CEO and Mike Stone, Executive Committee, Chairman that I will not have an answer to their inquiry by the deadline of February 24.
I am not comfortable deciding something of this magnitude so quickly. Instead, I’m asking our church family to pray with me through this decision.
So, I am asking our people here at First Baptist Orlando, who know me, love me and walk with me, to join me and our pastors on a 40-day season of prayer and fasting. Together we are asking God to guide us through the decisions regarding the SBCPC 2020 so that we will respond in a way that will bring Him the greatest joy and the greatest glory.
I’m thrilled to report that Ronnie, Mike and the other officers of the Executive Committee have affirmed the plan that God laid on my heart. J.D. also offered his enthusiastic support. I want to call on every member of our SBC family to join us in this as well. Join our church as we pray: “Make us one so we can influence many!” (John 17:21)
While we pray, I will not be issuing any statements or commenting on any SBC actions in order to protect the unity that has been created by our common desire to seek God’s perfect plan for us. I invite you to do the same.
I expect to have an answer for the Executive Committee on March 30, 2020.
We believe Jesus taught us that the greatest command is to love one another. We believe the way we treat and love our sisters and brothers in Christ demonstrates how much we love Jesus and identifies us as followers of Jesus. We seek to build unity and to love.
We believe that we are part of God’s kingdom. His Kingdom is bigger than us. We can and should hear from and learn from men and women inside and outside our denomination who have meaningful truth to share that can challenge and encourage us, even if they use different methodology or hold to different theology or ecclesiology.
Because of these convictions, First Baptist Orlando has decided to assume all of the financial obligations for the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference. We will not receive any financial support of any kind from any SBC entity or auxiliary. Our hope is that this will ease conflicts or tensions that exist over the slated program for the conference. The 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference is in no way being sponsored, controlled or paid for by the SBC, even though its purpose is still to bless and encourage SBC pastors and wives.
We are excited to welcome you, as part of our Southern Baptist family, to Orlando. We do hope you will want to attend the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference. We believe you will be encouraged in your personal walk with Jesus and in fulfilling your calling as pastor.
If you don’t feel comfortable attending, that’s okay too. Your participation is desired but by no means required. Orlando is a great city to visit and there’s plenty to do. If the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference is not for you, we hope that you’ll spend some time with your family at one of our world class theme parks.
Today we wired the $100,000 required reimbursement for the use of the Orange County Convention Center for the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference to Bill Townes, CFO for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
First Baptist Orlando will continue to receive sponsorship and financial support from individuals, churches and non-SBC organizations.
If you have suggestions or comments for the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference please send your emails to: SBCPC2020@firstorlando.com.
To give to the 2020 SBC Pastors’ Conference text SBCPC2020 to 40777 or visit sbcpc.net.
I have been to over 40 Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings in my lifetime. My favorite part has always been the Pastors’ Conference. Some of the most moving times I have ever experienced were in moments of response to a message or moments of worship there.
When I became president of the conference, I began to recall those moments that blessed me. When I did, there was a pattern: every one of them had to do with encouragement. The speakers and guests that made the greatest lasting impact were those that encouraged me. I know that is because those were times of discouragement at my church, or in my marriage, or in seminary. I still believe encouragement is one of the greatest needs we have, so I have planned accordingly.
This year’s Pastors’ Conference theme was born out of an overwhelming sense of the need for love and encouragement among us and through us to our churches, our communities, and the world. “Beloved” is the heart of that need. From the speakers to the music to the stories and testimonies shared, everything will radiate from 1 John 4:11: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
The irony of this is that my direction with the conference has created more division and hostility than I ever could have imagined. Could I appeal to you to be open and give God a chance to speak through every person who is a part of this program?
LOVED BY GOD
On Sunday night, the conference begins with an evening of worship built around the first part of verse 11, “Beloved, if God so loved us…” Two people God has used in my life to remind me of His love for me are David Platt and Wayne Cordeiro. I pray that this is a night of encouragement for all who attend.
Pastor, McLean Bible Church, Vienne, Virginia
David needs no introduction to us as Southern Baptists. Few people can articulate God’s love for a broken world better than David Platt. I have asked him to remind us of how deep the Father’s love is for us.
Pastor and Author
New Hope Christian Fellowship, Honolulu, Hawaii
I know many of you, like me, have had days where you have led on empty. Wayne’s story of his own journey through burnout will encourage and uplift you and I have asked Wayne to share this story with us. Wayne has spoken at our church at Exponential and his message, Leading on Empty, was profoundly impactful to our pastors. Most pastors have faced discouragement at one time or another and I have asked him to share his story that will give us encouragement in the battle.
LOVING OTHERS – AT HOME
On Monday we begin to focus on the second part of the verse, “love one another.” The place where that all begins is not in our church or our community or even our convention, it is in our home. The landscape of Southern Baptists is littered with the brokenness of children and spouses that had to settle for leftovers from the ministries that are so demanding. Speakers including Emerson Eggerichs and Ken Davis will encourage us in these areas of loving one another at home.
Author, Love & Respect
Emerson is a renowned author and personal friend. In my time of pastoring, the best marriage events I have ever been a part of were the ones I did with Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs. I believe loving one another starts at home, and Emerson will speak to us on that.
Comedian & Speaker
Ken is a talented comedian, speaker, and long-time friend. He has been a guest at First Baptist Orlando many times and it is always a joy to have him. Ken will continue the conversation around loving one another at home as we laugh together at our crazy families in the church world.
LOVE OTHERS – AT CHURCH
We will begin to broaden the circle of “one another,” focusing on loving those around us in our churches and the communities we serve. We will be challenged to love those who do not love us back or those who hurt us. We will hear stories of churches that wound, and brothers and sisters who have left scars in us. And we will be called to love outside the walls of our churches – to love people who are not at all like us.
Pastor of The Church of Eleven22, Jacksonville, Florida
Joby is one of the most encouraging and inspiring voices for church planters in the country. He is a regular at Exponential which is hosted at our church every year. I know how deeply Southern Baptists are committed to church planting, particularly in our SEND cities. If there is one group we want to be sure to equip and encourage, it is our church planters! He has had an amazing ministry of reaching those who felt the church was not the place for them.
Pastor at New Life Baptist Church, Carol City, Florida
Erik has served for the past two years as President of the Florida Baptist Convention. He also pastors a growing church in one of the most difficult metro areas in America in South Florida. He preached a message on love and unity at our church last year that had a profound impact on us and on me personally. I have asked him to share that message with all of you.
Pastor at Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nevada
Vance has one of the most aggressive church planting strategies to date. He has built a church in Las Vegas that is truly a church for everyone – a church where anyone can call home and find love. He represents, to me, the incredible pioneer spirit that we need reaching cities and places that are beyond the Bible belt of our country.
Pastor at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, Florida
David is one of the most creative and innovative communicators and pastors I know. His church has baptized over 11,000 in the past ten years. David and Church by the Glades were at “ground zero” at the Parkland shootings. It was only as a result of his credibility within his community, for loving his community, that he and his church were able to minister to hundreds of families in that crisis. I have asked David to speak to us about loving a community in a purely secular environment or setting.
LOVING THE WORLD AROUND US
Finally, Monday evening will be the culmination of 1 John 4:11 as we hear a message from Jim Cymbala. When we are consumed and overwhelmed by God’s love for us, only then are we ready to share that love with the people we lead and the communities we serve. I pray that this final time together will be an encouragement and a reminder of that truth.
Pastor at Family Church in South Florida; Lifeway Board Member
Jimmy needs little introduction to the Southern Baptist family. He has transitioned a traditional downtown Baptist church into one of the most dynamic and growing multisite congregations in the country. We have asked Jimmy to talk about loving the communities God has placed us in and to talk to us about the church’s intersection with culture within a diverse community.
Pastor at The Brooklyn Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York
Even though I met Jim through his books years ago, he and his choir have been guests here at First Baptist Orlando for several years and have also held concerts at our church. Jim preached a message on love, from 1 Corinthians 13, at our church two years ago that is the best I have ever heard on what it means to love. I have asked Jim to share that same message with all of us at the Pastors’ Conference.
MUSIC AND WORSHIP
The worship portions of the Pastors’ Conference will be led primarily by our First Baptist Orlando worship team. I have also invited two guests: Phil Wickham, who will lead us in a special time of worship, and Hosanna Wong, who will lead us in one selection of spoken word. For those who do not know, “spoken word” is an artform of sharing contemporary poetry in front of a live audience oftentimes performed with a musical background.
I have no desire to bring anyone into an environment that is not welcoming to them. I am communicating with our invited program guests and together we are determining the best plan going forward for each.
It is important to note that not everyone on this program aligns one hundred percent with all of my theological convictions, nor do they use the same methodologies to reach their communities that are working for us in Orlando. And yet, every person that I have asked to participate in our program is a devout follower of Jesus and has blessed me and encouraged me to know that I am loved by God and that I can love my family, my church, and the people in our community. I have asked them to specifically speak to this theme; one that unites us, not divides us.
From beginning to end, it is my hope that pastors would feel reminded of God’s love for them and leave equipped to go back and share that love with the churches and communities they serve — and I hope we have a little fun along the way. There will be other testimonies and panels addressing the theme throughout the day on Monday. And there will be some cool surprises along the way, like giveaways and moments of laughter and fun.
At the end of the day, my prayer is that what I remember happening to me throughout the 40+ years of attending these conferences will happen to you; you will be loved and encouraged.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:11
For His Glory,
Dr. David Uth, PhD
Senior Pastor, First Baptist Orlando