Mission Lab

Next Gen Pastors’ Network hosts Platt, Gaines, Gallaty and Allen

December 28th, 2017 / By: Jane Rodgers | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

DALLAS “Only 38 percent of evangelical pastors are under the age of 40, the lowest percentage in history,” Shane Pruitt, SBTC director of evangelism, told the TEXAN before the start of the SBTC’s Next Gen Pastors’ Network Roundtable Nov. 13 at Criswell College. More than 100 young pastors assembled in Criswell’s Horner Hall and library for breakout sessions, dinner and a panel discussion before the 2017 SBTC Annual Meeting was convened.

The Monday gathering marked the merger of Next Gen with another young pastors’ group, Forge, said Tony Wolfe, SBTC director of Pastor/Church Relations.

In addition to hosting events at the Annual Meeting and Empower Conference, the Next Gen Network will sponsor five phone conferences scheduled every other month from January to September in 2018 featuring David Platt, Steve Gaines, Robby Gallaty, Frank Page and Jason Allen.

Wolfe praised the turnout at the Criswell meeting, the first portion of which was structured around six half-hour breakout sessions. Participants chose two sessions and sat in chairs arranged in semi-circles around presenters, a who’s who of pastoral experience, each concentrating on a “core competency” of pastoring, Wolfe explained.

Jimmy Draper, retired president and CEO of LifeWay, addressed leading and developing staff. Criswell College president Barry Creamer spoke on presenting Christ in the public square. Russ Barksdale of Arlington’s Church on Rush Creek discussed discipling and leading one’s family. David Galvan of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Dallas addressed personal evangelism. Chris Osborne of Central Baptist in College Station spoke on staying sharp in the pulpit. Danny Forshee of  Austin’s Great Hills Baptist discussed creating a culture of prayer in the church. 

Following the breakout sessions, the group moved to Criswell’s library for a casual dinner and fellowship time, followed by a panel discussion featuring Draper, Creamer, Forshee, Galvan and Barksdale, attended by pastors and wives.

Before the panel, Wolfe introduced Nathan Lino, who spoke to the group about Southern Baptist life, including the function and importance of the Cooperative Program, which he called the “heart and soul” of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“I am part of SBC life by choice for a few reasons,” Lino said of his 15 years as a Southern Baptist pastor. “I believe it’s the best vehicle for missions, church planting and revitalization, leadership training and cultural engagement.”

Lino noted the six to seven thousand missionaries deployed by the IMB and NAMB and discussed the importance of the ERLC and SBC seminaries. He explained the place of “our state family,” the SBTC, and its “very effective ministries,” including church planting and revitalization.

Following Lino’s remarks, Pruitt welcomed the guest panel, who took turns responding to questions. 

“If you now could go back and visit you as a leader in your twenties or thirties, what would you tell yourself?” Pruitt opened. 

Draper took the mic first, mentioning his 68 years as a preacher and advising that “people are opportunities; they’re not obstacles.” Draper recommended building relationships with church members, discovering their needs and meeting them on “their own turf.”

“Be kind,” Draper added. 

Galvan echoed Draper’s advice to “meet people where they are.” 

“Just be faithful,” Forshee urged.

“I’d spend less time preaching ‘agin’ it,” Creamer said, adding that he would focus on encouraging his people to “demonstrate the love of Christ.”

When Pruitt asked which preachers the panel listened to themselves, answers included Paige Patterson, Mark Patterson, Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, W.A. Criswell, Jimmy Draper, Tony Evans and Billy Graham.

Asked about difficult times in ministry, the men discussed occasions where their churches lost members, difficult staff changes proved necessary, personal attacks occurred or they faced job loss.

“People will disappoint you,” Draper said, advising that, when criticized, pastors must listen to see if the criticism is true and correct the matter if so. “You will never do well by attacking back,” he continued. “Respond graciously. Treat people with courtesy.”

Draper said that during the Conservative Resurgence, he learned, “You can be a strong conservative and be nice.”

“A pastor can be constantly around people and still be the loneliest person in the room. Can you have good friends [in your congregation]?” Pruitt asked. 

The consensus was yes, although Forshee cautioned against showing favoritism. The panel stressed the importance of a network of accountability, too.

As for challenges facing pastors in the next decade, answers included the continued expansion of technology, cultural hostility to the church, issues of marriage equality, the struggle for sexual purity, the demands of the 24-hour society and declining contributions.

While their husbands attended the breakout sessions, 25-30 wives gathered for the Next Gen Pastors’ Wives roundtable in the library conference room. 

“A panel of seasoned pastors’ wives in full-time ministry for 25 years or more addressed a few questions and discussed various scenarios unique to a pastor’s family,” said leader Carolyn May, who co-hosted the group with Jennifer Garcia. 

Discussion questions addressed included raising PKs (preacher’s kids), living in a fishbowl, handling criticism, serving out of giftedness, handling friendships and navigating family life.