Marion | Stephen Love of Indiana opened with a joke: “I can’t move back to Illinois. It’s not because I’m spiritual; it’s because of property taxes.” There was laughter across the room. Then the Illinois native quickly turned to a hard subject: sin in the lives of pastors.
Love, planting pastor of Redemption City Church in South Bend, took off the gloves at the IBSA Pastors Conference meeting in Marion ahead of the IBSA Annual Meeting. “It might be today that you’re gonna have a conversation with your flesh: Jesus paid my debt, but flesh, I don’t owe you anything.”
Love told how his father, a pastor, gave him a book my Puritan author, John Owen. It wasn’t the video game a 13-year-old wanted. It was called “Of the Mortification of Sin” and one line in particular has stuck with Love decades later: “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.”
“Sin cannot be domesticated; sin cannot be brought into your house as pet,” Love said.
“What is it pastor that is calling out to you, that you spent many years answering yes and yes and yes… so out of obligation, you keep going back to that thing? Is it pornography, anger, bitterness, the fact that you treat the church better than you treat your wife? Bruh, you don’t owe that anything,” he said, calling for repentance.
In their sequential exposition of Romans 8, several preachers addressed the trials of pastoral ministry.
“The sufferings of ministry won’t last forever,” Ryan Rice said, receiving a round of amens as he repeated the phrase. “The sufferings of ministry won’t last forever, but guess what, the glory of the Lord will.” (More amens.)
Rice is a church planter and SEND City missionary in New Orleans. “If we are not careful, we can allow our suffering to take so much of our vision and blur the glory that awaits us,” he said. Paraphrasing Paul, he called the present trials of ministry “a blip” compared to the glory to come.
James Westbrook, a St. Louis native now planting a church in Oakland, California picked up the theme. “I don’t have to tell you that pastoral ministry is hard work, whether you are in crazy California, or the Land of Lincoln.
“We don’t have to force ministry to work out for our good,” Westbrook said, in reference to Romans 8:26. “God has fixed the system, he works the system, so that everything works together for our good…. He works with the Holy Spirit to bring good in the lives of his people.”
“Romans 8 opens with NO COMDEMNATION for those who are in Christ and ends with NO SEPARATION for those who are in Christ,” Jamus Edwards of Owensboro, Kentucky concluded.
In a time of his own desperation, Edwards listed 18 friends in ministry; 16 of them told him there were struggling to feel the love of God. “Why is it so hard to believe that Jesus us loves us when we are pastors?” he asked.
“The weight of the world may come crashing on our backs, but it’s going to be OK, brothers, because God is for us. When we really mess up, somebody’s got our back,” Edwards assured the pastors. “Sometimes you just need to know that Jesus, your mama, and your dog will always love you, and that’s enough.”
In the first session, Dustin Haile was elected president of the 2024 Pastors Conference. Haile is lead pastor of Gateway Church in Mt. Vernon. In following sessions, Tommy Thompson, pastor of Ashburn Baptist Church, was elected vice president, and Jacob Goble of Rooted Community Church in Lebanon was elected treasurer.
The Pastors Conference will be held at Ashburn Baptist Church November 12-13, 2024 prior to the IBSA Annual Meeting.