Southern Baptist statesmen encourage German pastors
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson and other Southern Baptist statesmen contributed to a pastors’ conference in Lemgo, Germany, June 7–9. The conference, which drew 1,000 participants from 15 countries, encouraged conservative Russian-German Baptist and Mennonite Brethren churches in Germany to cooperate with one another and with sister churches throughout the world in proclaiming the Gospel.
Alongside Patterson, Southern Baptist statesmen who attended the conference include Executive Committee President Frank Page; former pastor and SBC president (2005-2006) Bobby Welch, who promotes Southern Baptist relations with evangelicals around the globe; Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.; and Gordon Fort, vice president for the International Mission Board’s Office of Global Strategy.
The pastors’ conference was sponsored by Bibelseminar Bonn, the home to one of Southwestern Seminary’s extension centers, and the Forum evangelischer Freikirchen (The Forum of Evangelical Free Churches), the convention of conservative Russian-German Baptist and Mennonite Brethren churches in Germany.
During the conference, Patterson urged pastors to trust God’s promises and believe that revival will soon spread throughout Europe.
“Wait upon the Lord. Believe that He is about to do something great in this country and all over Europe,” Patterson said. Looking at the spiritual darkness that enshrouds the continent, some would say, “Europe is essentially hopeless.”
“It is an impossible situation,” Patterson admitted, “but may I remind you that God specializes in impossible situations.” Preaching from 2 Kings 7-8, he described to them one such impossible situation.
“If we are to see a great revival in Europe,” Patterson added, “don’t you know that we are going to have excesses to happen. Some people will do things that are not biblical. They will take advantage of the opportunity and bring into the church unstable doctrine. … Every great revival in history always has associated with it some things that ought not to happen.
For this reason, Patterson challenged pastors, first, to practice text-driven preaching, thereby preparing their congregations “to recognize the false from the true.” He also urged them to support conservative schools, like Bibelseminar Bonn, and to encourage those who are called to ministry to equip themselves at such institutions.
“Second, we must engage in evangelism like never before,” Patterson said. “We need to stop talking about evangelism and to start sharing Christ.” Finally, pastors should “wait on God in prayer.”
According to Heinrich Derksen, president of Bibelseminar Bonn, the conference was intended to “strengthen our preachers to stay firm and to preach the truth of the Bible” and “to strengthen the relationship between likeminded churches” in Germany, Europe and throughout the world. Derksen said that the conference provided pastors in Germany the opportunity to learn from Southern Baptists, as well as from church leaders who minister in other cultures.
“It is our deep desire to lead our churches to a Christ-centered preaching,” Derksen said. “We believe that churches will only survive if we depend on Christ and his infallible word. We believe that wherever churches keep Jesus Christ in the center of all their preaching, teaching and doing, there will be power and growth.”