The 2017 Priority of Preaching Conference featured four experienced expositors who had an impact on many pastors and church leaders across the state.
On March 6-7, at Oklahoma City, Southern Hills, the annual pastoral training event included among its speaking line-up Vern Charette, pastor of Yukon, Trinity; Don Wilton, senior pastor of Spartanburg, S.C., First; Tony Merida, pastor of Raleigh, N.C., Imago Dei Church; and Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary. Brett Selby, pastoral leadership specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Priority of Preaching drew a “solid attendance” of Oklahoma pastors.
“There was a good representation of pastors across the state,” Selby said. “Many came a long ways to be there. We saw men who have been in the pastorate and ministry for 40-plus years, and we saw some young guys in their 20s just starting out, so that was encouraging.”
Charette, who formerly served as a professor and instructor at Southwestern Seminary, led off the conference and spoke throughout the event. Selby said Charette is well-known in Oklahoma as an advocate for the training of expositors of the Word.
“He taught a lot on what he called a ‘text-driven sermon,’” Selby said about Charette. “He explained how a sermon takes its shape from the text, differentiating between a topical and expository sermon, and explaining the steps in doing that. It was extremely practical stuff.”
Wilton was a change of pace, Selby described, as he spoke comprehensively about expository preaching. “He was instructional and very inspirational,” Selby said. “He is Billy Graham’s pastor, and he regaled us with tales of Billy Graham but had a point about preaching from the Word.”
Merida’s book The Christ-Centered Expositor was offered to all who attended. Along with pastoring, Merida is an associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Seminary.
“(Merida) not only cast a vision about the value of expository preaching, but he also showed us how this is not just for preachers, that there are members of the church who should be trained to be expositors who would not stand behind a pulpit but would be teaching on a small group level, even a family level. He also reminded us that exposition has to be Christ-centered when dealing with a text. Your sermon is not finished until you have shown how the text relates to the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.”
Mohler provided both instruction and a modeling of expository preaching. “He taught how do you teach and preach a biblical narrative,” Selby said, “and then he preached out of John 9 and demonstrated what he previously taught. He is so consistently biblical and consistently relevant.”
As for an example of pastors coming from long distance, Michael Taylor, pastor of Ponca City, First, traveled eachday from Ponca City to make both days of the conference.
“Two days of a pastor’s schedule is a significant investment and sacrifice,” Selby said.