By Will Hall, Message Editor
BOSSIER CITY – California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Director Fermín Whittaker urged pastors and others gathered Nov. 9 to go all in for the Gospel ministry, saying, “We are ambassadors or not; we cannot be 50 percent.”
The venerable Southern Baptist leader spoke at the fourth annual Hispanic pastors’ conference conducted during the Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Cooperation was the common theme among the three sessions, each conducted by Whittaker.
Likewise, he offered key advice on the husband and wife partnership in the ministry.
“Remember, she is not assistant pastor, she is your wife,” he said, cautioning pastors from putting too much on the shoulders of wives.
“I saw a change in my wife when she began to be a woman and not a pastor’s assistant, a woman and not a conference speaker,” he offered. “She began to be a woman, instead of a Sunday school director.”
The call of God
In the first session, Whittaker spoke on a personal level to the group, encouraging them not to feel inadequate for the task God has called them to undertake.
God does not see a person with problems and deficiencies, he said, but He does look for a humble heart.
“I have to remind myself, God has called me and my contract was signed at the cross with His blood,” he shared, and offered three points to strengthen the pastors’ resolve:
— If you are biblical you can be a point of change in a congregation.
— The Lord honors service the same in a small church as in a mega-church.
— To influence someone, spend time with them (not just from the pulpit).
The importance of relationships
Whittaker reminded the audience in his second session that the calling to the pastorate is personal and irrevocable.
“The pastor is not the owner of the church,” he said, and to move forward with God’s vision a pastor must lead, not drag members to complete it.
The key, he said, is “leaders must practice love.”
“If the pastor does not example it, the congregation will not do it,” he urged.
He also offered an important warning: “As pastors, we tend to love everybody and sometimes this leads us to forget to love our families.”
Together for the gospel
Pulling together many points in the final session, Whittaker stressed the importance of cooperation in building God’s Kingdom.
He said God puts us on a path and has a plan for us regarding the people we meet along the way.
Moreover, he said, “Wherever we plant the message, God brings solutions and results.”
“One by one, person by person, heart by heart, others will come to Jesus,” and God has entrusted them to us to use in His plan.
“The most important word I can share today is this: ‘Do it together’,” he said.
“We need to minister with open hands, not fists.”
“Let’s not build barriers,” he continued. “We ought to be good examples so others will come to know Christ.”
Carlos Schmidt, catalytic church planter and strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention said the feedback he received from attendees was overwhelming.
“It was obvious Dr. Whittaker spoke from the heart from the take-away that pastors shared with me,” he said. “One pastor told me ‘I thought he was telling my story.’ Another said, ‘He was so transparent and genuine.’”
“As I look back, I realize we needed this type of conference for our pastors,” Schmidt added. “They do not have many people they can confide in. It was refreshing to see them let their guard down for a moment, and share the struggles they face each day.”
Plans for the upcoming year
According to Schmidt, there are a number of propsed Spanish Conferences planned for 2016.
- Evangelism Conference Iglesia El Renuevo Lafayette, January 2016
- Regroup Conference Summergrove Hispanic August 2016
- Worship Conference North and South TBA
- Raising Highly Capable Kids – North and South TBA
- Reset / Restaura – North and South TBA
- Storytelling – North and South TBA
- Church Planting Basics – North and South TBA.