What a time we had at First Baptist Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA with our sisters and brothers from both ABCNJ and ABCOPAD (American Baptist Churches of PA & DE). It was good to get together for a Pastor's Conference April 15th-17th with pastors and ministers from both sides of the Delaware River. We were able to catch up with old friends, make some new friends and form a learning community for the three days. Our theme was Faith Soaring Churches and featured Church Sociologist, Dr. George Bullard. He presented us with a lot of information on what helps congregations to climb higher in faith and service to our Lord. He also presented the opportunity to download as an e-book for free to all participants his new book FaithSoaring Churches from which he was speaking.
One of the illustrations that he presented to us came as a 4 seated car with Josh Spitzer volunteering as the driver. Josh represented vision while Joe Gratzel sat next to him representing relationships. In the back seat were Greg McMillan representing management and David Cox representing programs. As long as this arrangement takes place in a church, the church can gain momentum in faithfulness and service in God's Kingdom. But if the guys in the back take over the front seats and especially if management is driving, a church's forward momentum slows and within a short time frame the church will go into decline. Vision needs to drive a church and relationships need to undergird this endeavor.
Another theme that was developed during the conference was the need for us to be people of passion as pastors and to look for other passionate people in our congregations. Together we can catch the vision that God has for the current seasons in the life of our congregations and share it with our other faithful church leaders. Together in faith we can follow the Holy Spirit's lead and provide effective love and service to our congregations and communities.
As the Director of the ABCNJ Academy, I was very pleased with this first attempt at a Regional Pastor's Conference and truly appreciate the partnership with our sister region as we brought new learnings and fellowship to over 100 pastors in our churches.