The IBSA Pastors’ Conference kicked off Nov. 5 with a series of messages focused on revival, renewal, and encouragement for church leaders. The first day of the two-day meeting featured sermons from church revitalization expert Mark Clifton, Missouri worship leader Jonathan Hayashi, and Chicago pastor Bryan Price.
God, with us
In his message on reviving a leader’s love for the church, Clifton urged pastors to consider how they pray. Often, he said, we ask God “to be with us.” When in reality, he already is. Preaching from Revelation 1, Clifton exhorted leaders to remember that Jesus, the risen Lord, is with his church.
Far too often, Clifton said, we focus on what our church doesn’t have—a youth program, a nice building, or whatever other churches have. Sharing his experience revitalizing a church in Kansas City, Clifton urged leaders not to focus on numbers and successes, but on the risen Lord.
“Church revitalization begins when we get a new view of Jesus, and we don’t rest on the view we had of him 10 years ago,” Clifton said. “Or 10 days ago.”
A pastor can’t revitalize his church by going to a conference or looking at what another church is doing, Clifton said. “The only thing that works is Jesus. And until you get a fresh view of him in all of his resurrection glory—and it has to be frequent, it has to be daily—pastor, you depend on that. It’s your life.”
Only the beginning
“God never intended salvation to end where you’re at,” Jonathan Hayashi preached in Marion. “It is the beginning.” Hayashi, worship pastor at First Baptist Church of Troy, Mo., shared how Jesus saved him from a life of gang involvement through the faithful witness of a man who explained the gospel to him.
Hayashi urged pastors to embrace the call of discipleship—to be followers of Christ who make more followers of Christ. It will require sacrifice, he said.
“While the world says to love yourself and take all you can and follow your heart, Jesus says deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” Disciples are people who are living on mission for the glory of God, he said.
“Let us finish the task that has been clearly laid out before us,” Hayashi said. “Now,” he added, pounding the pulpit. “Now is our time.”
Bryan Price, senior pastor of Love Fellowship Baptist Church in Romeoville, used the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy to encourage pastors to revive the power of their pulpits. Preaching from the book of 2 Timothy, Price said pulpits can lose their power because some preachers have traded the truth of Christ for a “watered-down, weak, and flimsy version of the gospel.”
“One of the reasons we have lost the power is because we have traded the truth of Christ for feel-good message,” Price said, warning against the tendency to value self-help or motivational speeches over gospel preaching.
On the other end of the spectrum, he said, is the temptation to overcomplicate the message. “Sometimes, what they need is the simplicity of the gospel.” Price told his listeners that the more education he received, the harder it was for some people in his congregation to hear him preach.
Power, he said, “is not in the stuff we know.” Rather, as Paul wrote in Romans 1, it’s the gospel that fuels powerful pulpits.
Photo: Clockwise from left, Mark Clifton, Jonathan Hayashi, Bryan Price