My experience at the EK Bailey Preaching Conference (A Short Synopsis)
I have had three pastors in my lifetime. My first pastor was my father, Rev. William Lanier Pullam. Not only did I come to Christ under his ministry; but I grew to love God’s Word and acknowledged my call to proclaim the gospel while under his pastoral ministry. At the age of 18, I left Corpus Christi, Texas and journeyed to north Texas, settling in Dallas. As a student at Dallas Baptist University, I searched for a church. Admittedly, I was just looking for some great preaching. I visited Dr. Bob Wilson of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Christ, Dr. C.A.W. Clark of the Good Street Church, Rev. Frederick Haynes of Friendship -West and several others. Due to my lack of maturity, I gravitated to the larger congregations that provided a more electrifying experience in worship. T.D. Jakes, in 1997, was new to the city; and the church climate began to shift somewhat. In retrospect, I probably would have done well to take advantage of those ministries I had some connection with personally, such as my uncle, Rev. Lloyd A. Pullam or Dr. R.L. Sanders, or even my grandfather in the ministry, Rev. A. L. Kennon or Dr. C.B.T. Smith. Admittedly, I struggled to find the right place. Eventually, I happened upon the Concord Church. It was there I fell in love with the preaching of Dr. E.K. Bailey. Eventually, I joined! Visiting first at their Polk location, I was one of the new members of their new location, joining under Dr. Bailey’s ‘Lordship Series.’ Because of my preaching schedule in those days, I wasn’t much of a ‘regular attender’. Nonetheless, the ministry of Concord and Dr. Bailey had a profound effect upon my life and ministry. I am indebted to the ministry of Dr. Bailey; and how God shaped me in my early 20’s under this great ministry. Upon graduating college, my new wife and I journeyed to Houston and eventually joined Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, and Rev. Harvey Clemons, Jr. became my pastor. Over the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to attend the E.K. Bailey Preaching Conference. For me, it has been a time of enrichment and refreshing. On this past week, July 7-11th, pastors and ministers from around the country gathered to be sharpened and empowered by some of the nation’s brightest and gifted pastors and pulpiteers. I first attended this conference in 1996, prior to my senior year of high school; and my second year of preaching. During my first time at the conference with my father, I had the rare opportunity to eat with Dr. Bailey and meet one of my lifetime favorite preachers (Dr. Manuel Scott, Sr.) and Dr. A. Louis Patterson, Jr. Last week’s conference served as an encouragement to me – being overwhelmed with the challenges of a busy schedule, being bi-vocational, pastoring a small, growing congregation; and finding a way to ultimately be a great husband and father. My greatest challenges recently have been organizing my preaching schedule (planning my preaching), re-structuring my study time and devotional life, along with moving our congregation to move toward the cutting edge of media, networking, branding, discipleship and growth. These are tremendous challenges for me!!!
* How can I grow to be a better disciple, preacher, communicator & pastor?
* How can we brand our congregation in Victoria in a way that is distinctive & impactful to the surrounding community, both now and in generations to come?
* How can we create a platform that communicates our message, preaching and educational resources via the web, social media, etc.?
* How can we be the strongest disciple-making congregation we’ve ever seen up close and personal?
I have been asking myself these overwhelming questions for the past several months. Interestingly, the conference has clarified for me how God will accomplish these things in 2014-15. I am praying now that God will give me wisdom, our people receptive hearts, our leaders willing hands and a vision that is willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to move our congregation to the next level. Bryan Carter, Dr. Bailey’s successor, led a discipleship course that literally revitalized my understanding on how to build a strong church through Christian education and Christian learning. E. Dewey Smith, that pastor of the House of Hope in Georgia, further clarified how best to be a 5-star ministry. I plan to take our congregation through this study very soon, in the next few months. The preaching of Steven Lawson, Bryan Carter, H.B. Charles and William H. Curtis have simply strengthened and renewed my commitment to being a clear communicator and consistent expositor or God’s Word. To be sure, I have a long way to go. And if you are reading this blog, please pray for me – that God will give me structure, clarity, vision and rest, in order to accomplish those things that will ultimately enhance His kingdom. Note: While I came back inspired and with great ideas, I returned home tired and physically fatigued. I need to learn how to rest!