Sovereign Grace Fellowship Pastors’ Conference, Canada.
The annual Sovereign Grace Fellowship Pastor’s Conference was held on May 16-18, 2005 at Faith Mission. There were about 25 men who stayed through the whole time, with various others passing through for individual sessions. The keynote speaker this year was Alex Montoya.
Pastor Montoya is the associate professor of pastoral ministries at the Master’s Seminary, Los Angeles. He has authored a book by the same title Preaching with Passion (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications. 2000). The outline for the messages at the conference was taken directly from the book, with many more personal applications and illustrations, challenges and exhortations. He is also the senior pastor at First Fundamental Bible Church in Monterey Park, CA. During his tenure there, the church has seen great growth. Practicing the principles he preaches, Pastor Montoya’s church has planted 14 new works in urban California, through evangelism and new conversions. Himself a converted Roman Catholic, Pastor Montoya has a heart for seeing the local Hispanics coming to salvation in Christ alone. His passion for the lost shines through not just in his preaching, but in his teaching on preaching as well.
There were three sessions with Brother Montoya teaching on the main topic, ‘Preaching with Passion.’ He argued that ‘a dull preacher is a contradiction in terms’ and that a ‘dull minister creates a dull audience.’ His emphasis in the introduction was that preaching is to be the overflow of what God has been doing in our hearts. Pastor Montoya taught us eight keys to preaching with passion.
The first requirement for passionate preaching is learning to preach with spiritual power. For true passion to shine through in our preaching, it must originate genuinely in the heart of the preacher as the Word of God impacts his soul. He went on to give us some very practical ideas for maintaining our own spiritual vigour, which is essential for ongoing ministry. The genuine work of salvation is wrought by God working through a humble preacher, not a powerful personality. It was also stressed that personal holiness is an absolute must for the servant of God. How can one who is living hypocritically speak genuinely from his heart to the hearts of those in the audience?
The second characteristic of passionate preaching is preaching with conviction. In our brother’s words, ‘men hold opinions, but convictions hold the man.’ Here we were taught that we should only bother people with truths that we are serious about. Why else should they listen? ‘If you don’t believe something, don’t preach it!’ Each message ought to be one that we would be willing to die for, and we ought never preach anything ‘just because it’s in the Bible.’ Rather, we must feel the Word as it impacts us, so that we can impact others with that conviction.
Preaching with compassion was the next heading. Our brother warned us, ‘If you love to preach, but don’t love people, you cannot preach.’ Our ultimate motive in sharing the gospel must be the salvation of sinners who are as lost and doomed as we were. People must leave after our sermons knowing that their pastor loves them.
Preaching with authority was the fourth characteristic discussed. Here we were instructed that to speak authoritatively, we must speak as a believer, as an ambassador, as a scholar, as a skilled artist, and as a saint.
Preaching with passion also means preaching with urgency. Pastor Montoya here described passionate preaching as ‘sanctified madness.’ We must always preach with judgment in mind, preach toward a verdict, and preach the uniqueness of the moment.
Preaching with brokenness is the sixth key. We were reminded that Christ himself was ‘a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.’ The effects of brokenness are realism, compassion, increased faith, humility, sobriety, and holy boldness.
Lastly, and practically, we were exhorted to preach with your whole being and to preach with imagination. Preachers were given whole bodies, not just a head, so why should we not use it for the greatest good? Likewise, we were given imaginations, so why not use them to impact people for the gospel?
There were four other sessions not related to the main theme. One was taught by Alex Montoya on Evangelism & Church Planting. Michael Haykin taught his third instalment of Canadian Baptist History (the life and times of T.T. Shields). Roger Fellows gave us sound counsel on the topic of Inter-Church Relationships, and Pastor Perry Edwards encouraged us with the comforting doctrine of Assurance.
Over the course of the conference there was time for prayer, and fellowship with all of the SGF pastors in attendance, some of them having been in the ministry for many years. There was much wisdom and encouragement to be given and shared.
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