By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – In a time when it is becoming easier to be disheartened in ministry, Don Wilton encouraged pastors to press on despite challenges.
“If there is anything that we need and if there is anything I need, if I could make any recommendation to you, it would be simply this,” Wilton said. “Preach Jesus. How can anything be so simple and yet so deeply profound?”
Wilton said that too often, people are gravitating toward the more popular things, which can make it difficult for a pastor trying to preach God’s word. He said pastoring is becoming more difficult by the day.
“And if you are not careful, you will very quickly become disheartened in your ministry, and you will start asking the wrong questions and looking for the wrong solutions,” he said. “It’s very easy today to get swept up in what someone may or may not be doing. It’s very easy to become impressed by large crowds and methods and methodologies that seemingly produce great human response.”
Wilton, who was speaking to a roomful of Louisiana Baptist pastors during the E4 Preaching Conference at First Baptist Pineville Sept. 19-20, said he believes in the impact the local church can have on the world. He is pastor of First Baptist Spartanburg, SC, whose members include evangelist Billy Graham, with whom he visits on a regular basis.
“I’m a pastor of a congregation,” he said. “I have been called to preach and teach God’s word. What does that mean? And how does it work itself out in the practicality of my life and ministry? I am an evangelist at heart. And I have traveled all around the world but I am anchored into the local church. That’s where my heart is.”
Wilton encouraged pastors and other believers to pay attention to God’s truth. Today, he believe that many in America are not listening to what God is saying but rather are distracted by many things, good and bad.
Citing Hebrews 2:1-4, Wilton said these distractions cause believers to drift like a ship without an anchor.
“A ship that has no anchor becomes totally subject to whichever wind blows,” he said. “That’s like some of you. That’s why believers who claim to be believers all across America, they’ve got no anchor, they don’t know where they’re going. It just depends which wind happens to come blowing through that will determine which direction they will go in.”
When we fail to pay attention to God’s leading, Wilton said we will develop a very light view of sin, we will develop a very loose attitude toward the greatness of God’s salvation and we will develop a very low awareness of the activity of God.
“We ought to pay attention to the things that we are hearing and be advised, be warned that if we don’t we are going to drift further and further and further away,” he said.
In his final message, Wilton said that Jesus is the ultimate solution to drifting spiritually and all the world’s other problems.
Based off Hebrews 2:14-18, Wilton said Jesus is the ultimate solution in six ways. They are because he took hold of our humanity, destroyed the devil, sets free all who are slaves, stands on His word, satisfies God’s requirements and is the only one who can help us overcome our own weakness.
“He is able to help all of us, we the children of flesh and blood, to overcome and gain the victory too,” he said. “I present to you Jesus. He is the only solution.”
Wilton’s message was part of the sixth annual E4 Preaching Conference. The conference also featured breakout sessions on preaching and music by the First Baptist Pineville praise and worship team.
Next year’s E4 Conference is scheduled for Sept. 18 at First Baptist Pineville.
“Dr. Wilton did a fantastic job of challenging our pastors in our ministries,” said Stewart Holloway, pastor of First Baptist Pineville and conference organizer. “The breakout sessions were beneficial for helping us in everything from preaching various genres of scripture to leadership principles for assimilation and revitalization.”
Pastors came away encouraged and refreshed for ministry in their church, community and beyond.
“The E-4 Conference was an encouragement to me as a pastor and to the young men who accompanied me whom I am mentoring,” said Jonathan LaFleur, pastor of Westside Baptist Church in Ponchatoula. “The breakout sessions were helpful and applicable, and Dr. Wilton’s messages were challenging and inspiring. As a state convention, we need a conference like this – one that seeks to further educate and equip pastors in the area of expository preaching.”
Tony Thibodeaux, pastor of Barataria Baptist Church in Lafitte, said the main theme for him was pay attention to the message so he doesn’t go adrift, referencing Wilton’s message from Hebrews 2:1.
“As a pastor, we proclaim this message but sometimes we may find ourselves becoming adrift if we are not careful,” he said. “This was all in all a great weekend filled with great messages from great Godly men.”
For Josh Currie, this was his second time to attend the E4 Conference. He found it to be both a time of refreshment and renewal, something he didn’t expect.
“I came in order to be faithful to the commitment I made in my ministry to obtain training and teaching relevant to my calling as a pastor, but I received much more than that,” said Currie, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Natchitoches. “God moved through the keynote speaker Dr. Don Wilton and the instructors of the breakout sessions to immensely encourage me in my personal spiritual walk and in my public ministry.”
Wilton’s sermons preached during E4 are available on the First Pineville website, fbcpineville.net/online-sermons.