If you’re a baseball fan—and how can a red-blooded American not be?—you know what time of year this is. It is time for Spring Training.

As a pastor, please take a moment and think about that. Major league baseball players are the best in the world at what they do. And yet every spring they come together for this thing called “training.”

Ronnie Floyd

Ronnie Floyd

What actually happens there? Do they learn new skills? For the most part, they do not. There may be an occasional pitcher who works on adding a new pitch to their repertoire, but that is the exception.

So what do they do in this annual training ritual? They work on getting better at the basics, on honing the fundamentals of their craft. Hitting, throwing, fielding, running—the same things they have done for years—occupies their focus. Imagine some player saying, “Well, I know how to do those things so I’m not showing up for spring training, just the regular season games.” And imagine how well that would be received.

Training is not just for those learning a skill. It is also for those who want to stay on the top of their game.

Pastor, you’ve preached for years. You have learned the craft of writing and delivering messages. So why should you come to a conference on preaching?

The answer is because there is great value in going back to the basics of hermeneutics and continuing to work on the mechanics of preaching—sitting with the text, exegeting it, developing a sermon idea from that exegesis, and then planning an approach to best deliver it.

A pastor does many things in the fulfillment of his ministry—he leads the church and cares for the members—but there is nothing more important that a pastor does than preach the word of God. Pastors are shepherds and the primary role of a shepherd is to feed his flock.

What more important task is there for a pastor to do than preach Scripture to those with whom God has entrusted him? What function of pastoral ministry deserves more attention and concentrated effort than the preparation and delivery of anointed, biblical messages to God’s people? Nothing is more important than a pastor’s preparation and delivery of sermons.

So I want to invite every Oklahoma Baptist pastor to attend the Priority of Preaching Conference on March 3-4  at Edmond, First. God has given us a great collection of preachers to lead our training sessions. Ronnie Floyd is well known for his dynamic leadership of Springdale, Ark., Cross Church for more than 27 years as well as his national leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention. This is his personal invitation to Oklahoma Baptist pastors:

“The preaching ministry of the church can set the spiritual thermostat for the entire church; therefore, it is imperative we grow continually. This is why I hope to see you in our preaching conference as we navigate through the teaching and preaching ministry in these challenging times. Someone told me once: ‘The sharper the axe, the bigger the blow!’ A conference like this can sharpen all of us, and when it does, we can make a bigger difference for God.”

In addition to Floyd, Adam Greenway from Southern Seminary leads the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and is president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, helping pastors in that state preach powerfully and evangelistically. Scott Pace from Oklahoma Baptist University trains students to be effective preachers and leads by example as well as regularly filling pulpits across the state. And finally Ed Newton, staff evangelist from Orlando, First of Central Florida, combines an emerging generation perspective with the depth and passion of a biblically-rooted ministry.

Pastors, our Spring Training is March 3-4 at Edmond, First. I am inviting you to this training event, not because you do not know how to preach but because you do and I know you want to keep getting better at it. And I am inviting you to come because there is nothing more important that you do on a weekly basis, and there is nothing that your church needs more than your best from the pulpit. I hope to see you there.

For registration and more information, go to www.bgco.org/leadership. Registration is $50.00.