"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Louisville, Kentucky and the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention - June 21 - 24, 2009

Rachelle and I arrived in Louisville late Saturday night via a direct flight from Dallas, Texas. Before catching our flight at DFW, we dropped of our youngest son, Logan, at Dallas Christian College where he is going through a week of training before heading to the Amazon jungle in Peru to spend six weeks sharing the gospel with Peruvian jungle natives on a team from Awestar Ministries in Tulsa.

Rachelle and I are staying at the historic Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. We both swear by Hotwire, and our $90 a night hotel room is a great deal when compared to the $125 rooms at the Convention headquarters hotel where we usually stay.

Today I attended three different worship services at various Lousville Southern Baptist churches, including Valley View Community Church, Highview Baptist Church, and 9th and O Baptist Church. I will be attending a couple of meetings at Sojourn Church later this week.

Kevin Ezell, Senior Pastor of Highview, is being nominated for President of the Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference. Highview has seven locations, and I attended the Fegenbush Campus where Dr. Russ Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary preached the 10:15 worship service. Dr. Bill Cook, a professor at Southern, is the lead pastor at 9th and 0 Baptist Church. Joel Carwile is the Senior Pastor of Valley View. A few observations from attending these various worship services today.

(1). The influence of Southern Seminary is felt at every Southern Baptist church in Lousville. Southern is our largest seminary and, frankly, it is a huge blessing for churches to be able to tap into the gifts and talents of both faculty and students. Examining closely the staff rosters of the churches, it is evident that Southern plays a huge influence in leadership at these churches.

(2). Valley View is less identified with Southern Baptists, removing "Baptist" from their name, using women far more effectively in leadership roles than the other two churches, and they seem, by far, to have the younger congregation. However, to be fair to Highview, I only attended one service of multiple services they offered this weekend, and it could have been that I chose a service attended by a generally older crowd than the other services.

(3). All three messages that I heard were doctrinally sound, well-delivered, and a blessing to the hearers.

(4). Highview is to be commended for having multiple campuses with multiple pastors and teaching pastors. Rather than Kevin Ezzel preaching at every campus via close circuit feed or video archive, various pastors teach at each campus, including Dr. Russ Moore every Sunday at the second of three services at the main campus, giving Dr. Ezell a break between the early and late service. The series topic is the same at each campus, but the messages are unique to each pastor. This, in my opinion, is far better than the LIFE model out of Edmond, Oklahoma, which often becomes a church revolving around a personality.

(5). The websites of Valley View and 9th and O were well done, but in Valley View's case, information was outdated. Highview, on the other hand, had the finest website of any Southern Baptist Church I've come across. It was visually appealing, easy to use, and simplified a very complex worship schedule and structure for the newcomer or visiter. The web administrator and staff at Highview are to be commended for a job well done on getting great information about the church on the Web.

(6). All three churches sponsor a number of missionaries, mission projects and direct mission causes that have nothing to do with the Cooperative Program. This is neither a negative or a positive regarding the churches - just an observation.

(7). I came away this morning grateful that these churches understand evangelism, for the most part, is to be done OUTSIDE the worship service - and Sunday worship is to encourage believers - which happened at all the services I attended.

After an early start this morning, Rachelle and I ate lunch and returned to the hotel where I watched Emmanuel, Enid's 11:00 a.m. service via the internet (archived). My dad delivered a wonderful and meaningful message on Father's Day.

Needless to say, the Southern Baptist Convention has a great deal going for her in 2009 - mostly some wonderful churches who understand what it means to minister to people.

I am on my way to the Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference at the Kentucky Exposition Center where I will hear J.D. Grear, Mac Brunson and Chuck Colson. I will report on the Pastor's Conference later.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


B Nettles said...

Good observations. I wish you could have checked out 3rd Ave or Emmanuel, too. They're smaller, but have many young couples.

If you get a chance, go to Starla Harbin's concert at the Pastor's conference. Always a blessing. Good friend.

Alice and I will be there Monday. Hope to see you.

Tom Kelley said...

My observations:

(1) I see a disconnect between the doctrine of local church autonomy and the practice of multi-site churches. An earlier generation of Baptists would have placed doctrine over expediency.

(2) There seem to be no repercussions for Mac Brunson from how he and his church treated the FBC Jax Watchdog. Nice for Mac, but it causes the SBC to lose credibility.

Lydia said...

Don't forget to eat at the Brown Grill and order a "Hot Brown". They are delicious.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

I watched the Brunson sermon, and what a sad sight. The hypocrisy of his message, screaming at people in how to treat other Christians was shocking. I hope the pastors could see through his shallowness and anger. How a guy who last year issued trespass papers against myself and my wife with never speaking to us, and to lie to his community in the newspaper that I'm mentally ill - and to have the audacity to lecture the pastors on how THEY should behave when attacked, that they should not return evil for evil...it truly is a sad sight. The contrast between Brunson and the other two speakers, Greear and Colson was amazing.

RRR said...

Thanks for the updates, Wade. It's like we have our very own on-scene reporter! We're praying that this will be a great Convention with the Spirit of Christ in complete control.

Jim Paslay said...

I attended the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists this morning with my wife and my DOM and his wife. We heard some really good messages. The message by Dr. Kaner from Liberty University was tremendous and one every pastor needs to hear. It was inspiring.

In the Pastor's Conference, Dr. Colson brought a great message on making disciples. I didn't get to hear all of Dr. Brunson's message so I can't really comment on it.

My wife and I really enjoyed the music from North Mobile. We truly worshipped! A good day!

Robert said...

did I hear J.D Greer dog politics as being part of religion then Colson encouraged us to have a christian worlview.
I will stick with Colson. Did anyone else notice the contradiction?
frankly Iam getting tired of the position that we should stay out of politics...not really Biblical to let the pagans rule the world!


chadwick said...

Watchdog (who once was anonymous but now he's known),

I witnessed Brunson's sermon 'live.' I did not detect one ounce of anger in his sermon. On the other hand, Brunson could have preached from John 3:16 and YOU would find something wrong with it. You would be wise to heed his illustration on the $137 million painting.

Never been anonymous a day in his life:


Wade Burleson said...


I mention the contradiction in the next post.


Have you ever considered people might see or interpret things differently than you and that does not necessarily make them "wrong" and you "right"?

Just asking.

Lydia said...

"frankly Iam getting tired of the position that we should stay out of politics...not really Biblical to let the pagans rule the world!"

Wonder who the first century Christians would have voted for if they had the vote? Nero or Caligula? :o)

Tell me, Robert, did Paul fight for a more moral Rome? Set up a lobbying group in Rome to fight for more moral laws?

Or did he take the Gospel to the world and model what it means to follow Christ?

chadwick said...


Here is a wonderful truth I learned at VBS last week:

"It All Comes Back to Jesus!"


Lydia said...

"Here is a wonderful truth I learned at VBS last week:

"It All Comes Back to Jesus!"

Exactly. Which is why many of us are wondering what they were thinking having Mac preach. Are they affirming his recent behavior?
Are you?

Will said...

Wade, are you coming out to Southern on Wednesday for the 150th celebration? If so, I'll be part of the group giving tours of the campus. Come by the new building and we will take care of showing you around.

Robert said...

You said

"Tell me, Robert, did Paul fight for a more moral Rome? Set up a lobbying group in Rome to fight for more moral laws?"

Paul did appeal to Rome but Rome was not under the same system as we have now.
I have a Kuyperian understanding of Christian involvement in Politics and believe those who ignore the Culture Mandate are sinning!

I admit you are consistent in your view on politics but I find it rather Fundamentalistic....like John MacArthur.
Like Bavinck says in his book, Our Reasonable Faith, .....Evasive Pietism.

Robert from the Southern Baptist Geneva

Charlie J. Ray said...

I have only one complaint about this article. It is that you seem to assume that everyone in church is a Christian. While it is true that the emphasis is to be on expository preaching and feeding the sheep, it is not true that evangelism is only for outside the church walls. Not everyone who is a member of the church is genuinely converted and there are unregenerate visitors who need to hear at least some sort of presentation of the law and the gospel which can bring conviction of sin and a desire to repent and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Not every message needs to be an evangelistic sermon but on the other hand, a church with no evangelism taking place in the services will never grow.