Ezell urges pastors not to isolate themselves
November 17 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

Kevin Ezell, new president of the North American Mission Board, urged pastors not to isolate or insulate themselves from the pains of people, no matter how large or small their church.

Preaching at the annual pastors’ conference, held this year for the first time at the same site as the annual Convention sessions, Ezell said the grief that Christians at Ephesus in Acts 20 declared at the Apostle Paul’s leaving them demonstrated he was intimately involved in their lives.

Kevin Ezell, elected  Sept. 14 by a split vote of trustees, was transparent and personable as he reminded pastors “most will not be judged by how we arrived but by how we depart.”

Even though pastors sometimes “pour your life into people and sometimes they respond and sometimes nothing happens” and even though ”sometimes you invest and invest and invest and there is nothing there … we never get to the point where we insulate ourselves from the cares of people.”

Paul told his disciples they were all going to Jerusalem and even though he warned them “it’s going to get ugly” that didn’t change their perspective. Too often that is unlike the response of American Christians, he said. “We have become so spoiled.”

The only unanimous vote Ezell ever has received was the 7-0 call to his first church, he said. “We have a comfort zone and we like it and we typically stay in it.”

Ezell and his wife have six children, including three adopted from three different nations. Orphanage officials warned Ezell to be careful when he took his newly adopted 11-year-old to the hotel because J.M. had never felt hot water. The orphanage had none.

Of course, after Ezell demonstrated the controls for J.M.’s first hot water shower, the boy stayed in there for 45 minutes and declared it “wonderful.”

“Most 11-year-olds in America want an IPod, he just wants warm water,” Ezell said. “ Most of us forget where we’ve come from.”

For weeks J.M. woke Ezell with the promise that “I will be a good son for you today.” 

“If only every believer would wake up and go to bed every night with the same intent as we bow our knees to pray and say ‘God, I will be a good son for you, I will be a good daughter for you and will do my best to please you every day and night.’”

Ezell asked pastors to consider what people will remember when they look at their ministries. He said he has done many funerals during his ministry and it is easier to personalize the funeral of a deceased whom he knows. He needs more input from a distant family.

So he asks some questions to be able to relate the personality of the deceased. When one family member said of his mother, “She was the meanest woman I know,” Ezell said, “That’s not going to work.”

“It is amazing how people can live 80 years and their life is summarized in just a few seconds,” he said. “Take a stop watch and time the things you really value. What difference will it make that you were really here?” 

Call to personal holiness
A late substitute for Johnny Hunt who was trying to trim his schedule, frequent pastor’s conference speaker Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., called pastors to personal holiness.

Preaching from Galatians 5 Wilton spoke frankly and said, “Young pastors aren’t lining up to stand beside us because of our conduct.”

He lamented the conduct of pastors that makes secular headlines and tells the world they do not believe what they have preached. “We can meet until the cows come home,” he said, “but unless we ask God to take hold of our hearts and change us from inside out … you will not be able to do the things that you imagine you can do.”

He said legalism has “crept into the ranks of our Southern Baptist denomination” and that “we have become a denomination of boasters and braggers and preachers who stand up in self-aggrandizement.”

From this chapter Wilton said for those who claim to love Christ, there will be revealing sin, releasing love, and reflecting results. 

“Fewer and fewer people want to come to church because they watch the behavior of our people,” Wilton said.

They see the sexual sin, the worship sin and the character sin.

He said just the previous day another pastor in his hometown fell to sexual sin. “Is there someone here today committing adultery?” he asked as he peered with piercing eyes over the crowd. “Are you that man?”

While God says such sinners will not inherit the Kingdom, Wilton says Baptists have “become powder puffs in the pulpit because we don’t believe it.”

Instead of preaching and living with boldness, Wilton said, “We have another convention and write another ding dong resolution about the Great Commission.”

“One reason so many people don’t want to come hear people like you and me is because we behave like dipsticks,” he said. “We’ve cultivated a people who come not to hear what God wants them to hear but what they want to hear.”

He emphasized that only a pastor’s personal holiness, of the kind that asks, “Lord what is it that You would say to me,” and “Father how can we lead those young people,” will inspire and lead others to new life.

“The role of evangelism is not complete until the evangelized become evangelists,” he said. “We have to understand that the fundamental responsibility of the evangelist is to be holy because God is holy.”  

Pastor’s Conference officers
Lee Pigg Jr. was elected as pastor’s conference president-elect, which means he will take the helm in 2012. He is pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church in Monroe.

Scott Faw was elected vice president and Dale Robertson was elected treasurer for the 19th time.

This year’s president-elect Bobby Blanton, assumes the role of president for 2011’s conference. Blanton is president of the Board of Directors for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and pastor of Lake Norman Baptist Church in Huntersville.
11/17/2010 5:59:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 0 comments




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