By Jessica Pigg
June 22, 2022
ANAHEIM, Calif. – More than a thousand people attended the Conservative Baptist Network’s breakfast event before the opening gavel of the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting in Anaheim, June 14. An attentive crowd generated enthusiasm in the packed room and rallied speakers as they discussed the sufficiency of Scripture and courage in the pulpit, during the 7-speaker breakfast program.
Attendees were encouraged by Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Bossier and Baptist Network spokesman, to “buckle up” for a one-hour time of prayer, encouragement, and fellowship with like-minded pastors, messengers, and laypeople all surrounding a theme promoted by Florida pastor Tom Ascol: “We have a Book.”
David Closson, Director of Biblical Worldview at the Family Research Council, recalled the sentiment of learning about the Conservative Resurgence from a textbook. Utilizing his opening statements to direct his appreciation to a generation of those who have gone before and fought the 1979-2000 battle for the Bible, Closson introduced the new challenges facing the Convention.
“Egalitarianism, Critical Race Theory, sexual abuse, stating that the Bible whispers about sexual sin…these new challenges are going to take local church pastors fighting against complacency,” Closson said.
With a desire to come alongside local churches and local church pastors, the Family Research Council has created resources and an association of churches to equip, educate, and encourage Christians to follow and represent Christ with boldness.
“We must remain faithful,” he said. “We have a Book, and we need to make sure that we are getting our marching orders from that Book.”
Dr. Lee Brand, then-first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, echoed Closson in noting the various challenges facing the Convention by exhorting those in attendance to stand firm in proclaiming the gospel.
“Make no mistake about it, we are here today because we have unfinished business,” Brand said. “There are still issues, there are still problems. Contrary to popular talking points, you can still love this Convention and still see the problem, address the problem, and still love the people that we disagree with. I want to thank you for being people who will stand. Thank you for being people that love the Lord enough to be more concerned about the God who reigns than the world who watches.”
Brand encouraged the crowd to “yield their life to Christ” and do everything first and foremost for the glory of God. He exhorted three things about God: He is big, He is better, and He is beautiful.
“We stand for His glory—No matter how people interpret that, and no matter what they say about us,” Brand said. “There will come a day when it won’t matter what they say. We want to hear the Lord say, ‘well done.’”
Brand concluded by recalling a wise statement made by a woman of God, sharing that “All of us want to hear the Lord say, ‘well done,’ but God cannot lie. The only way that God can tell you ‘well done’ is if you do well…let’s go forward, and let’s do well.”
Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA and widely-known conservative voice within culture, received a warm welcome from attendees as he took the stage to encourage pastors to remain vigilant.
“We need to focus on the most important thing we can do–spreading the gospel and winning people for Jesus Christ,” Kirk said. “We need more pastors right now that are willing to stand up against the world and for the Word. We’re here to fight for truth and righteousness.”
Kirk described three types of churches and three types of pastors found in American pulpits today–the courageous pastor, the cowardly pastor, and the complicit pastor.
“Don’t be passive in a time when you need to be bold,” Kirk said. “Be willing to stand behind the pulpit and preach the truth. If you don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, you are going to begin to entertain all of these crazy ideas. Make no mistake, the threat ahead of us is a real threat…courage and boldness will be rewarded.
“Who better positioned than the church to crush a movement that is founded on lies?” Kirk asked. “Who better than us as Christians who have the truth to stand up against this predatory movement? Who better than the church?”
Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center Executive Director Ryan Helfenbein also addressed the role of vigilance and standing courageously in a drifting culture and convention of churches. Helfenbein harkened back to the late Jerry Falwell in stating that the university’s main goal is to train “champions for Christ.”
Falwell has been noted for stating that he “would rather the property be burned to the ground and vacated than that it should ever cease to be God’s university.” The institution’s goal is that the Bible is believed, and Christ is exalted.
Helfenbein addressed the devastation and godlessness running rampant within the Convention. “We are dangling by a thread, and there are decisions to make about the future of this denomination.
While some will choose to capitulate and assimilate to culture in days of adversity, others will remain steadfast, planted in the truth of the Word of God, he explained.
“There are also those who are world changers,” Helfenbein said. “That’s what we are here to do: To proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to stand unashamed, unapologetic on the Word of God. To understand that it’s not just inerrancy theoretically, but it’s about the sufficiency of Scripture for all the church. The whole council of God. We want to be world changers.”
Javier Chavez, pastor of Amistad Cristiana International, joined the chorus of voices urging attendees to stand uncompromised.
“Don’t ever compromise the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Chavez said. “We have a Book, and we don’t need anything else but the Word of God. The greatest badge of honor that we can have is to serve Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fight like men.”
“We are not editors of the Book. We are messengers of the Book. We must take what the Book says and declare it,” Ascol said, having been welcomed with a standing ovation.
Ascol, pastor at Grace Baptist Church and then-candidate for SBC president, stated that the trending hashtag, “ChangeTheDirection,” could be best described as a “return to the fear of God…There is no fear of God before our eyes in the SBC.”
The Cape Coral pastor urged other pastors to be grounded in the fear of God, and not the fear of man.
“We can’t think that we can make friends with the world in hopes that we might be able to evangelize them,” he said. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of man is a snare. If you are not fearing God, you are going to fear people.”
Ascol urged the standing-room-only crowd to go to a source above all others in the midst of a raging, spiritual battle.
“We have a Book,” he said. “Our God has told us how we are to live in this world. We are engaged in a spiritual war. We see the enemies of God all throughout our culture, infiltrating every institution.
“We have a Book, we have God, and He has called us to serve Him,” he said. “Let’s go and let’s engage, whatever happens today, as the people of God who are submissive to His Word—who are unbending in what that Word says, unashamed of any syllable of the Word—and do what God’s called us to do and leave the results to Him and not count cost or consequences.”
Rod Martin, layman and founder of The Martin Organization, emphasized the message of the Conservative Baptist Network.
“It’s not about us. It’s not about power of serving on any committees,” he shared. “It’s about educating another generation of pastors and another generation of pastors…those pulpits must absolutely thunder with the truth of Jesus.”
Martin reminded those in attendance that perspective matters.
“We don’t have to stand; we get to stand,” Martin said. “We need to stand and fight for what matters…We get the honor of standing in a time of persecution and actually doing something that matters for the kingdom.
“What we know is this–God’s church is still His. God is still sovereign. The Lord Jesus Christ is still the bridegroom. His church still matters.”