Speakers share Biblical advice for reaching generations

PLAINVIEW – Reaching the next generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ requires churches, ministers and believers to change their thinking and their actions, speakers at the 84th Annual Panhandle-Plains Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference encouraged attendees.

Carrying out the theme “Declaring His power to all generations,” the two-day conference, held Feb. 21-22 at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, featured several pulpit guests sharing messages about reaching the changing culture. Keynote speakers Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia in Houston and Ed Seay, pastor of First Baptist Church in Magnolia, kicked off the conference with a luncheon session for men, dealing with the need for ministers to protect themselves from burnout and depression and avoid the pitfalls that tough times in ministry may bring.

“I think for many of you it is not common to take time away to refuel, refresh and just pray,” Seay said. “There’s a sense that a good pastor has to work so hard and do everything, because there’s so much to do. But if the pastor can’t make sense of it all and find peace in the midst of the storm, how can we expect our people to?”

Dr. Joel Gregory, former Metroplex pastor, led the Bible study for the conference, teaching out of 2 Corinthians with lessons from Paul’s life and ministry. Those lessons including knowing that God is always leading the believer to triumph, even when the circumstances don’t seem like it; the abiding nature of God amidst the disappearing landmarks of life; and the need to present the Word of God in its full strength, not in a diluted form.

The Seays shared messages on Monday afternoon and evening sessions, with Tuesday’s messages given by Robert McKenzie, pastor of Good Shepherd Baptist Church in Lubbock; Jesse Rincones, pastor of Alliance Baptist Church in Lubbock; and Dr. Tommy Brisco, dean of the Logsdon School of Theology in Abilene. Highlights from those messages include:

  • Chris Seay emphasized a need for Christians to know the changing culture and to allow themselves to be opened up in witness to others. “If you begin to open up your soul and let people know who you are, be who we are, we can reach people. We need to open the scriptures so people don’t just say, ‘That’s a good preacher’ or ‘That’s a good person,’ but ‘That’s a good God,’” Seay said. He also said reaching emerging generations requires being able to share how satisfying a life in Christ is amid their search for meaning and purpose in life.
  • Ed Seay shared that reaching the next generation ideally begins in the home with parents, but that requires making sure the lessons being passed on are genuine. Seay said too often parents make the mistake of overemphasizing rigid rules and religious traditions and don’t place enough emphasis on a relationship with Christ. “We cannot expect youth to fit their new wine of faith into our old wineskin. If we don’t open ourselves and let them see our heart, they won’t get our faith.”
  • Robert McKenzie emphasized the need to change our methods in the church in order to impact a lost and dying world. He said that change begins with the need to desire a change, being tired of seeing all the sin in the world and wanting to impact the future.
  • Jesse Rincones spoke about the changing demographic of Texas, where the Hispanic population continues to grow. Reaching the generations, Rincones said, requires changing attitudes about the race and seeing the possibilities for ministry. “This is not an invasion, but an opportunity to look across the tracks, the aisle, the church pew and say ‘what an amazing opportunity to reach people for Christ.’”
  • Tommy Brisco spoke of the need to address the motivation with which we declare God’s power to the generations, using three vignettes from Jesus’ ministry. He said there’s a need to see the harvest with compassion, seeing their need for a savior, to be about God’s will and his work, and to have mercy on those who don’t immediately understand.

The Pastors’ and Laymen’s Conference is sponsored by several associations, including Amarillo Area, Lubbock Area, Permian, South Plains, Caprock-Plains, Mitchell-Scurry, Red Fork and Top O’Texas.

New officers elected for the 2006 conference include President Steve Vernon, pastor at First Baptist Church in Levelland, Vice President Philip Golden, pastor at First Baptist Church in Denver City; President-Elect David Lowrie, pastor of First Baptist Church in Canyon; Secretary-Treasurer Charles Bassett, vice president emeritus of Wayland Baptist University, his 45th year working with the conference.