More than 30 faculty, staff and students from Southwestern Seminary participated in the 2016 Pastors’ Conference, Jan. 28-31, hosted by the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla. The theme of the conference was “Study to Show Thyself Approved,” based on 2 Timothy 2:15. Southwestern President Paige Patterson and Dean of the School of Preaching David Allen served as two of the 18 conference speakers.

Allen presented a plenary text-driven sermon based on Hebrews 1:1-4. Centering the exposition on verse 2a, “God … has spoken to us in His Son,” Allen showed how the substance, structure and spirit of the text teach that God’s speech is a vehicle for revelation, communication and fellowship, with Jesus serving as the Rosetta Stone for His speech.

Allen additionally taught four seminars entitled “What is text-driven preaching and how to do it” to standing room-only audiences. In these seminars, Allen contrasted text-driven and text-centered preaching and made the case that if Scripture is the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God, then text-driven preaching is the purest form of preaching. He further encouraged pastors in how to prepare text-driven sermons and, theological reasons aside, the many practical advantages of doing so. Some of these advantages include that it guarantees the Word, rather than the preacher, is the focus of the sermon, and it means the text provides the sermon outline so the pastor does not have to contrive one.

Patterson presented a plenary sermon based on Acts 2 to an auditorium full of pastors and pastors’ wives. Patterson opened by stating, “There are only two types of preaching: there is text-driven preaching, and there is bad preaching.”

He then walked through the entire chapter of Acts 2, delivering a passionate call to evangelism, reminding the pastors that there are 7 billion people on the globe who are either going to heaven or hell. From verses 37-38, he challenged people to share the Gospel so that the lost are “pierced to the heart” and ask the question “What shall we do?” so they then repent from their sins and are baptized.

In response to Patterson’s message, Mac Brunson, pastor of FBC Jacksonville, reflected, “Without a doubt one of the most moving, convicting messages I have ever heard. Thank you.”

A new booth for the School of Preaching, the seventh and newest school at Southwestern, was revealed at the conference. Four preaching faculty from the school—Patterson, Allen, Vern Charette, and Kyle Walker—interacted with pastors and prospective students.

Through the School of Preaching, students have an opportunity to earn a Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Ministry from the school. Moreover, students who pursue a Master of Divinity through the School of Theology can receive a certificate from the School of Preaching if they concentrate their electives on preaching.

Southwestern offered three classes in coordination with the Pastors’ Conference taught by Deron Biles, dean of extension education; Michael Wilson, professor of pastoral and applied ministry; and Vern Charette, assistant professor of preaching and chair of preaching and pastoral studies division. A total of 21 college, M.Div. and D.Min. students attended the pastoral ministry, pastoral leadership, and evangelistic preaching courses.

Students said the conference and classes were “refreshing,” “encouraging” and “convicting.” A highlight for the D.Min. cohort of students was a lunch and two-and-a-half-hour pastor-to-pastor conversation with Mac Brunson in his study.

For more information about Southwestern’s new School of Preaching, visit swbts.edu/preach