Building Kingdom Families

Jun 17, 2003 10:21 AM EDT

PHOENIX – The opening sessions of the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference focused on “Building Kingdom Families” by means of strengthening families and building marriages upon the truth, June 15-16.

"No amount of ministerial success will compensate for marital and family failure," said featured speaker Howard Hendricks.

Hendricks, chairman of the Center for Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary, emphasized the importance of teamwork within marriage and family ministry. He listed four goals that every minister should have for a marriage: personal integrity, marital intimacy, parental responsibility and professional competency. Without the first three goals met, Hendricks said, a ministry will be lacking.

"If your Christianity does not work in your home, it doesn't work. ... Your call to be a pastor is not in conflict with your call to be a father, your call to be a husband. Your call to be a pastor's wife is not in conflict with your call to be a mother, your call to be a wife."

The opening speaker Josh McDowell commented upon the lack of absolute truth in today’s teens. McDowell, a renowned author for Dallas sad the key to combating this crisis lies in the family.

"The very basis of what we must build our faith upon is truth," he continued. "When we allow truth to erode, we gut our faith."

Teens are exposed to 40 hours of "secular education" and 28 hours of "secular entertainment" each week, said McDowell. Parents -- fathers in particular -- must model truth before their families in the context of loving relationships, McDowell continued. "If they don't see truth in your life, they will walk away from it."

"It's happening on our watch; we have a generation hanging in the balance," McDowell said, calling on parents to help bring about a "spiritual revolution that will get kids to take a stand for Christ regardless of the consequences."

Continuing on the theme of truth, the next featured speaker, Jerry Vines, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., preached on the biblical account of Enoch’s life and translation into the presence of God in Genesis 5.

"I'm going to give all of you media what you came for, and I'm going to say it slowly, so even Tom Brokaw can get it," Vines said, referring to the criticism he received for making comments about the exclusive nature of the Gospel.

"All religions are not the same. All religions are not equally true. There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved except the name of Jesus," he exhorted.

This past February, Vine’s comments became the subject of an NBC Nightly News report Feb. 25 in which news anchor Tom Brokaw said Vines was "preaching hate."

Johnny Hunt, pastor of the Atlanta-area First Baptist Church in Woodstock, told pastors and churches to cultivate families that "don't leave the world the way we found it."

Preaching from 1 Thessalonians 1, Hunt said a successful ministry will see people changed by God and inspired to do His work. If churches and families will focus on the eternal purpose of God, "God will welcome people into heaven because of their investment," he said.

"Now's the day to say, 'Lord, I want to be part of a family that doesn't leave this world the way we found it," said Hunt.

Other speakers during the conference's opening sessions were evangelist Hank Williams, pastor Chip Roberson, humorist Dennis Swanberg and college professor Ergun Caner. Scheduled to speak Monday afternoon and evening were pastors Ken Whitten, Ted Traylor, Tommy Nelson, David Jeremiah and Adrian Rogers.

The Conference will close Monday evening in a "Kingdom Family Rally" highlighting "seven pillars of a Kingdom family" and featuring singer Steve Green and family ministry speakers Dennis and Barbara Rainy, Tom and Jeannie Elliff and Gary Chapman.

By Pauline J.