As thousands of Southern Baptist pastors and guests gathered in Indianapolis on June 9-10 for the 2024 SBC Pastors’ Conference, attendees were inspired by great preaching and worship through music.

Led by Oklahoma Pastor Stephen Rummage, of Oklahoma City, Quail Springs, who served as president of the 2024 SBC Pastors’ Conference, the event encouraged and inspired pastors and others. Various sermon summaries are available at, and For more information, visit

In addition to the sermons and music at the SBC Pastors’ Conference, various events also took place on June 10, including the following.


NAMB’s Send Luncheon highlights fostering and adoptive families, encourages pastors’ families

Written by Brandon Elrod. Originally published to the Baptist Press.

INDIANAPOLIS — Marriage, family, generosity and hope were the central themes of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Send Luncheon on Monday, June 10, in Indianapolis as Southern Baptists blessed a family and provided support for adopting and fostering families.

“I love this luncheon for a lot of reasons because, one, it’s just fun,” NAMB President Kevin Ezell said during the event. “That’s the whole purpose of it, but you know one of the most fun things about it is getting to bless people.”

This year, the Clifton family were blessed after their husband and father, Clint, died in a tragic plane crash roughly 18 months ago as a donor paid for daughter Ruthe Clifton’s upcoming wedding and honeymoon as well as providing gifts to the other family members.

“All the time, I talk to people about Clint’s church planting legacy, but when I think about his legacy, I think of this family,” said Colby Garman, pastor of Pillar Church in Dumfries, Va. “Family just meant everything to him. He did everything [with his family], and guys, I think you know this, but your dad would be so proud of the way you guys have leaned into the Lord over the last year and a half.”

Illusionist and entertainer Dustin Tavella, who won America’s Got Talent in 2021, then used his magic tricks act to honor the adopting and foster care families in the audience, which is a key part of Send Relief’s compassion ministry focus.

Tavella was fostered as a child, and he and his wife adopted two boys before going on the famous game show.

The show concluded with an illusion that spelled out the word “hope.”

“Hope is at the center of every adoption story. Redemption is at the center of every adoption story,” Tavella said at the conclusion of his show. “We keep Jesus at the center of all these things, and we’re able to see hope rise in situations when it doesn’t even make sense.”

Ezell and International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood invited families to the stage who were currently in the process of adopting, and Tavella prayed over them in their journey before they went backstage.

“What these couples don’t know, we’re taking down their information…and we’re going to help each one of them pay for their adoption,” Ezell announced.

The luncheon’s program opened with Ted Cunningham, a pastor and comedian on the Date Night Comedy Tour, who shared jokes and anecdotes about the ironies and realities of marriage and family life.

He told a funny story about one of his kids repeating the punchline to one of his dad jokes.

“My question for you today: do you have a marriage worth repeating?” Cunningham asked. “Do you have a marriage you want your children and grandchildren to have? Because here’s what we know about our kids. They’re watching, they’re listening, remembering and repeating.”

Cunningham concluded by using an analogy of singers performing a duet and told the pastors in the audience, “Every marriage is a duet in need of great backup singers. As you are singing backup over the duets in your church, don’t forget about your own duet.”

Ezell also welcomed Chitwood, GuideStone President Hance Dilbeck and SBC Executive Committee President Jeff Iorg to the platform. The entity heads good naturedly ribbed one another as they introduced Iorg during the luncheon, who’s served just under a month on the job.

“Seriously, we want to be here to support you, love you and pray for you,” Ezell said to Iorg. “And we could not be more thankful that God placed you in the position you’re in.”

A “Where Are They Now” video featured individuals and families who had been blessed at past Send Luncheon events and shared how they were now using those blessings to help others.

While gifts given at the luncheon are paid for by private donors, Ezell shared the ways that Southern Baptist generosity, through the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, allows NAMB to be generous to their missionaries, and he opened the Send Luncheon by thanking the attendees.

“Today is about saying, ‘Thank you.’ We’re able to do what we do and bless our missionaries as we do because of you, pastors,” Ezell said. “We’re aware of that. Because of your faithful giving to the CP and because of your faithful giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we’re able to bless our missionaries. So, today is about saying, ‘Thank you.’”


IMB dinner focuses on faces of lostness

Written by Sue Sprenkle. Originally published to the Baptist Press.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – More than 2,000 people gathered for the International Mission Board dinner June 10 at the 2024 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis. IMB leaders and missionaries brought to life the faces of the spiritually lost around the world.

They told stories about a young mother living in gang-controlled slums in a crowded city; Sudanese refugees who fled their homes with nothing and found a safe place in Uganda; Chuck, a third-generation Korean Japanese man living in Japan who was initially resistant to the Gospel.

Each story showed the world’s greatest problem – lostness – and highlighted those who are leading the effort in addressing it with the only solution – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. IMB President Paul Chitwood told attendees that this Great Pursuit is why the IMB exists.

“What is the Great Pursuit? It is our combined effort to find those who have yet to hear and believe the Gospel, and upon finding them, share the Good News with them,” Chitwood said. “In short, it is our obedience to the Great Commission … the biblical model of getting the Gospel to those who have yet to hear through the presence of a missionary.”

Greg Mann, leader for missionaries who serve among Asian and Pacific Rim peoples, shared how missionaries impact lives amid the rapid pace of urbanization where millions migrate each year. More than 55 percent of the world’s population lives in urban centers, most seeking better living conditions due to environmental and political factors. He said by living, working and engaging in urban communities, missionaries become a tangible representation of Christ’s love and message.

“This presence not only opens doors to build relationships and foster trust, but it ultimately creates pathways along which the Gospel travels consistently and steadfastly back into areas where it’s impossible for missionaries to live, whether local or foreign,” Mann said. “I can’t overestimate the importance of this.”

The task of this Great Pursuit is enormous, but Southern Baptists have had missionary presence among the lost for 179 years. The commitment to send missionaries remains.

Victor Hou, associate vice president of global advance, told a story of visiting a missionary explorer with IMB’s Project 3000 in West Africa. The young missionary’s job was to find and research 10 of the 3,072 unengaged, unreached people groups with no ministry strategy.

After 11 days of trekking in physically hard-to-reach places, the missionary met village chiefs and local villagers. He shared the Gospel with people groups who heard the Gospel for the very first time in the history of their tribe.

“This is our task for our generation – to pursue the lost so they too can join us around the throne of God,” Hou said. “This is the Revelation 7:9 vision that God will fulfill through us as we labor together in this Great Pursuit.”

Ministry in an urban or rural setting can have its highs and lows as Kevin Singerman, missionary serving in Uganda, attested. He has met hundreds of refugees over the last few years, celebrating with them and hearing their greatest pains.

Missionary presence combined with food packages, provided through Send Relief, has provided touch points to share the Good News and see some not only come to faith, but see discipleship groups formed.

“God has been doing his work in drawing people to himself,” Singerman said. “We must do all we can to maximize on this opportunity.”

With each story and face shared, IMB staff and missionaries led the crowd in prayer and urged them to use the resource, Loving the Lost, a free IMB prayer guide. Chitwood thanked the crowd for their valuable partnership and urged them to see how God wants them to be involved.

“This mission we are on – this Great Pursuit of the lost – is the most important work in the universe,” Chitwood said. “We need your help to push this effort forward, to finish the task.”


D.J. Horton elected 2025 Pastors’ Conference president

Written by Erin Roach. Originally published to the Baptist Press.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – D.J. Horton, pastor of the Church at The Mill in Spartanburg, S.C., was elected president of the 2025 SBC Pastors’ Conference on June 10 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Horton, founder of Living Worthy Ministries, won in a runoff election with Georgia pastor Brad Whitt. Chris Bolt, a Virginia pastor, also was nominated. Horton will lead the planning for next year’s Pastors’ Conference June 8-9 in Dallas.

“D.J.’s role as a pastor and family man has prepared him for this day,” Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in his nomination of Horton.

“Under Pastor Horton’s leadership and commitment to biblical expositional preaching, Church at The Mill has experienced remarkable growth and expansion from a congregation of 600 in 2004 to over 4,000 across three campuses,” Luter said.

Horton earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, where he was a member of the Tigers football team. He earned an M.Div. in expository preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. in biblical exposition from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

He served as chairman of the South Carolina Sexual Abuse Task Force, a trustee of Charleston Southern University, a trustee of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

In a statement to the Baptist Courier when his nomination was announced, Horton called it a humbling experience to have an opportunity to serve the denomination.

“Having served my church for 20 years, and now as a 46-year-old pastor, I have become deeply convicted to leverage some of my time encouraging other pastors,” Horton said. “Any measure of faithfulness or success I have experienced is due largely to the godly men who have poured into me.”

Horton will appoint a slate of offers to assist him and report back to the Pastors’ Conference.


Pastors’ Conference emphasizes biblical faithfulness

Written by Erin Roach and Marilyn Stewart. Originally published to the Baptist Press.

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) – Faithfulness in prayer, to the next generation, under pressure and to families were among the sermon topics during the SBC Pastors’ Conference June 10 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Benny Wong

Early in his ministry, Benny Wong, Chinese-English bilingual director at Gateway Seminary, failed to intercede for his flock as he should have, Wong admitted in the opening sermon Monday.

“Since then, I’ve been asking God to help me to grow in the school of prayer,” Wong said.

Wong drew from Moses’ example in Exodus 32:7-14 and in Deuteronomy 9:8-29 to show that faithful intercessors go to God in prayer as soon as they hear of a need. Moses interceded for the children of Israel immediately when God told him of their rebellion and before he saw the golden calf with his own eyes, Wong said.

“Don’t delay praying though you have not seen a real case with your own eyes,” Wong said, urging pastors not to wait to pray until their youth drift from the faith or fall into addiction.

Faithful intercessors must pray tirelessly, Wong said. Moses prayed tirelessly and prayed for 40 days and nights both at Mt. Sinai and at Kadesh-Barnea, Wong said.

He pointed also to Augustine, “one of the greatest thinkers” in the faith, whose mother prayed 17 years for his conversion as he lived in immorality and rebellion.

A faithful intercessor must also testify to God’s answers to prayer which God can use to motivate others, Wong said. After he told another church how God had answered his congregation’s fervent prayers, a deacon repented of failing to pray and recommitted to intercessory prayer.

Wong concluded, “I encourage all of you to be faithful not only in teaching of God’s Word. Be faithful to the ministry of prayer. … May we take intercessory prayer seriously.”

James Noble

“Be faithful or be forgotten,” James Noble, pastor of Kingdom Community Church in Anderson, S.C., and vice president for diversity, community and inclusion at Anderson University, told pastors, imagining a modern-day letter from the apostle John similar to Revelation.

“You have gone a long, long way in material advances, but, America, I am wondering as I look at you from a distance whether you have gone as far in the spiritual realm,” Noble imagined John warning.

Noble emphasized the need for multiethnic churches reflecting the diversity of heaven, and he urged that pastors work toward holiness in the church.

“The church was made for the world, but when the world gets into the church, we have a dangerous situation,” Noble said. “I hear that right has become wrong, and wrong has become right. Do not give in to the evil pressures of your day.”

Nothing compares to the Word of God, Noble said, and faithfulness requires preaching it.

“Don’t quit. Don’t lighten up. Don’t shut up. Don’t back up until we’re all caught up to meet the Lord in the air,” Noble said.

Because the Bible is the norm of all norms, it cannot be normed by anything, he said. “In other words, the Bible norms us, not vice versa. The danger is when you allow culture to norm you.”

Regarding the office of pastor, Noble said believers should “allow the Bible to norm us.”

Shane Pruitt

Shane Pruitt, national Next Gen director for the North American Mission Board, said the solution for reaching today’s generation of young people is simple: “Stick to what has worked for 2,000 years. Stick to the Bible.”

Silence is not an option for believers, Pruitt said. In a secular culture that itself preaches, makes disciples and has evangelists, the church cannot remain silent, Pruitt said, pointing to Paul’s clear message of the Gospel on Mars Hill in Acts 17.

While today’s culture looks to self for happiness and fulfillment, depression and mental health issues are rising, Pruitt said. The sinful self is the problem.

“If self is the problem, self can’t be the solution,” Pruitt said. “We need Jesus.”

The Gospel still works, Pruitt said. Young people are searching for answers and recognize that “they’re broken and the world is broken,” Pruitt said. He tells them they are looking for someone rather than something, and that Jesus is who they need.

The mission is still clear, Pruitt said, emphasizing that every young person who confesses faith in Jesus is part of the church and has the same Great Commission responsibilities as older believers.

Pruitt shared stories of young believers standing up for truth, sharing and living out the Gospel and standing strong for Christ despite the cost in friendship and acceptance by others.

“They can handle it,” Pruitt said of today’s generation’s ability to process biblical truth.

“They are not the future of the church,” Pruitt said. “They are the church right now.”

Adam Dooley

Regarding faithfulness under pressure, Adam Dooley, pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn., said pastors must rest in the manifest presence of God, knowing that it is impossible to endure if they don’t surrender to Him.

From Exodus 33, Dooley said churches must abandon dead religion.

“It is so easy for ministry to become business as usual to us,” Dooley said. “Far too often, we’re content to do the work of God though the presence of God has long been absent. … Is it possible that many of the pressures that we feel in ministry are the direct result of being religious professionals who look to God for His power but have no real interest in His Person?”

Churches must be led by the Spirit, Dooley said.

“I’m just a man. There’s nothing special about me. I am not the secret to our success. My knowledge is limited, my wisdom is insufficient to guide God’s people, and my plans fall short of God’s glory. I can’t lead the church, and neither can you,” Dooley said. “But God promises to lead His church by His Spirit.”

Churches must be distinct from the world, Dooley said.

“So much of what we offer people, frankly, can be found in other places, and if we’re honest, with a lot better quality,” Dooley said. “… What makes the church distinct is God.”

Robert Smith Jr.

Robert Smith Jr., professor of preaching at Beeson Divinity School, called Acts 8 “a miniaturized fulfillment of the Great Commission” that shows the Gospel’s expansion from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The church began in Jerusalem “but was not restricted to Jerusalem,” Smith said. God used Saul’s persecution of the church, before his conversion, to scatter the seeds of the gospel and fulfill the Great Commission, Smith said.

Smith emphasized God’s use of adversity while noting the change in Paul from Acts 8 to Acts 9.

“In chapter 8, Paul is giving orders; in chapter 9, he’s taking orders from the Lord … in chapter 8, he’s the church’s number one enemy; in chapter 9, he’s the church’s number one defender … It is adversity that causes the church to grow,” Smith said.

Smith continued comparing Acts 8 to Matthew 28:19-20 by pointing out that believers fled Jerusalem for other parts of Judea and then Samaria, sharing the Gospel as they went. Philip found himself explaining Scripture to an Ethiopian eunuch on the desert road to Gaza, a place that fits “the uttermost parts of the earth,” Smith said.

Afterwards, Philip was sent on to Azotus, spreading the Gospel further, rather than returning him to his “successful ministry” in Samaria, Smith said. “God is the only one I know who can add by subtraction,” Smith said.

Smith concluded, “I’m grateful for a God who’s not concerned just for the neighborhood, but for the nations.”

Jimmy Scroggins

The qualifications for pastors found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 emphasize marriage and parenting, Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., said, but pastors’ families should not feel pressure to be perfect.

“What the church needs to see is not you casting forth an image of perfection that’s not even real and not even true and not even accessible. What the church needs to see is you and your wife loving each other, fighting for it, sticking together, forgiving each other,” Scroggins said.

The passage says a pastor should manage his household well. “That kind of suggests that in the pastor’s family there might be some things that have to be managed,” Scroggins said.

In a world of gender confusion and more, churches should realize fathers are mad about what threatens their children, Scroggins said.

“Dads in our churches need us to call them up and train them to fight. Churches that teach dads to fight for their children will have a reason to exist. Churches that don’t teach dads how to fight for their children, I think, are likely to disappear.”

Churches need to go all in on marriage, teaching young adults to marry earlier than today’s average; they need to go all in on kids, encouraging couples to have more children; and they need to start schools to train up children to combat the culture, Scroggins said.

Jack Graham

In a day when more pastors are “stepping down from ministry than stepping into it,” according to a Wall Street Journal article, character is crucial, said Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas.

“I can’t think of a more important subject for us right now than this subject of character and integrity,” Graham said.

Graham noted 1 Timothy 4:16 where Paul cautioned Timothy to “keep close watch on yourself and your doctrine” and said that belief and behavior must go hand in hand for the pastor who wants to please God.

Graham defined character as “Christ-likeness,” a godliness that is authentic, blameless and strong in the midst of storms. “Character is who we are before God and God alone.”

Adversity refines character, Graham said, and he urged pastors experiencing disappointment not to quit. Perseverance means “to serve with triumphant joy” because believers know their “labor in the Lord is not in vain,” Graham said.

Character must be aligned with commitment, Graham concluded. Acknowledging that some listeners were “flat out tired,” he pointed to Isaiah 40:31 and its promise of strength for those who wait on the Lord.

“The greatest call in life is the call to serve Jesus,” Graham said. “You are called of God. The Spirit of Christ lives in you.”

Steve Gaines

Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., used the seven statements of Jesus on the cross to preach on being faithful to the cross. The message of the cross is a message of forgiveness, Gaines said.

“Has someone hurt you? Forgive them even if they don’t ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness sets you free, and you need to be free indeed,” Gaines said.

The message of the cross is a message of salvation, he said, pointing to the thief on the cross. “All he could do was cry out. Praise God, when you cry out, Jesus will hear you,” Gaines said.

The message of the cross is a message of provision, Gaines said, noting that Jesus cared for His mother. It’s also a message of separation as Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross on behalf of sinners.

“Aren’t you glad that He was separated momentarily so that we won’t have to be separated from God eternally?” Gaines said.

A message of humanity was present at the cross when Jesus expressed thirst. “The Lord wants you to help Him sometimes. … Jesus wants you to help by sharing the Gospel with lost people. Jesus wants you to share a biblical sermon on Sunday morning,” Gaines said.

The cross was a message of completion when Jesus won the battle, and it was a message of commitment when He gave His life as an offering, Gaines said, sharing the encouragement he’s found in Christ through his own recent battle with cancer.

Stephen Rummage, 2024 SBC Pastors’ Conference president then led the crowd in a prayer for Gaines.