Thursday, November 12, 2009
Younger Pastors and the Hope of a Future

Tonight I spent a really encouraging few hours with a group of younger pastors — men who are being greatly used of God to reach their own generation and far beyond. That experience made me really thankful, and also led me to think about why Southern Baptists should be especially thankful for the rising generation of young pastors.

1. They are deeply committed to the Gospel and to the authority of Scripture. They are men driven by conviction and the ability to “connect the dots” theologically. They understand the threat of theological liberalism and want nothing of it. They love the Gospel and have a firm grip on it. They are animated by a biblical theology that brings them joy and grounds them in truth.

2. They love the church. They have resisted the temptation to give up on the church or to be satisfied with a parachurch form of ministry. They love people, love the church, and see the Body of Christ in terms of God’s redemptive purpose. They like the gritty work of the ministry and are not afraid. They understand the joy of authentic Christian community and they give their lives to it. They are recovering a biblical ecclesiology in its fullness. They affirm and practice church discipline. They see the glory of God in an inter-generational congregation of believers growing into faithfulness together.

3. They are gifted preachers and teachers. They rightly divide the Word of Truth and they make no apology for preaching the Bible. They are dedicated to expository preaching and they actually know what that means. They may not use pulpits, but they do have something important to say when they get before a congregation.

4. They are eager evangelists. They are driven by an urgency to see lost people come to know Jesus and become both believers and disciples. They are innovative in methodology and boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They affirm that Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and they know that there is no other Gospel that saves.

5. They are complementarians who affirm the biblical roles for men and women in both the church and the home. They love God’s gift of marriage and the blessing of children, and they make clear that Christian discipleship requires faithfulness in marriage, family, parenthood, sexuality, and they embrace the Bible’s teaching concerning the roles of men and women. They motivate younger men to embrace God’s plan for their lives and lead. They talk openly about their joy in their wives and children. They change diapers.

6. They are men of vision. They apply intelligence and discernment to the building up of the church and the cause of the Gospel. They see and seize opportunities. They are planting and building churches that glorify God by reaching the world, preaching the Gospel, and changing lives. They are innovators and churchmen. They love a challenge. They would be embarrassed to aim low.

7. They are men of global reach and Great Commission passion. They long to see the nations exult in Christ. They know nothing of a world with fixed borders and nationalistic aims. They eagerly send, go, and give. They refuse to let their congregations fixate on themselves. They look at unreached people groups and hear the call.

8. They are men of joy. To be with them is to sense their joy and their lack of cynicism. They are not interested in complaining about the church. They are planters and fixers. They scratch their heads as they look at many denominational structures and habits, but they have not given up.

Most denominations now look to the younger generation and wonder if there will be any pastors, or if the younger pastors will love the Gospel, preach the Word, and commit themselves to the church and the Great Commission. Southern Baptists are now blessed to look at the rising generation of pastors and see so much that should bring satisfaction, hope, and joy. The younger you go in the Southern Baptist Convention, the more conviction you discover. There is reason for great hope.

I go to bed tonight having been encouraged by my time with these young pastors. I get to see this rising generation every day on the campus of Southern Seminary. I also know that none of this would be happening here if a generation of SBC pastors and leaders had not fought the good fight and recovered this denomination for the cause of truth, the authority of the Bible, and the furtherance of the Gospel.

All this will send a man to a thankful sleep.


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