The Miami Pastors' Conference

I am spending a couple of days in Miami with my son, Joel, at the 2nd Annual Miami Pastors’ Conference. The conference is hosted by Pastor Rickey Armstrong and the Glendale Baptist Church. Its genesis goes back to 2001 when a few pastors met in Atlanta to discuss the prospects of hosting a conference geared toward encouraging African-American ministers to think of ministry based on the doctrines of grace. A conference did meet that year in conjunction with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals but was not organized again until last year when Pastor Armstrong and GBC decided to host it.

The theme is “The Christ-Centered Aim of Preaching.” Three speakers addressed us today. Ken Jones of the Greater Union Baptist Church in Los Angeles and Michael Leach of All Saints Redeemer Church in Decatur, Georgia led a workshop on the state of preaching in African-American churches today. It was fascinating, insightful and offered several helpful correctives that transcend cultural and ethnic distinctives. One observation that Pastor Jones made was the tendency of many preachers within the African-American community to relegate preaching to an “art form” with little regard for content. Of course, preaching is primarily defined by subtance (“Preach the Word”) not style. Pastor Leach cited Jeremiah 5:30-31 as an apt description of modern evangelicalism. Listening to his arguments, I had to concur.

Tonight, Pastor Jones gave a very helpful message out of Luke 24 on the Necessity of Christ-Centered Preaching and Thabiti Anaybwile, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman, Cayman Island, gave a wonderful example of doing what Christ did with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He offered 5 examples of how to preach Christ from all the Law. We are still to hear from Pastors Armstrong, Anthony Carter and Sinclair Ferguson. I don’t know if recordings of the sessions will be available. You can check with the church. If they are, they will certainly be worth having.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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