Momentum for the Southern Baptist Convention-wide 2003 Kingdom Family Rally continues to build, most recently thanks to the SBC Pastors' Conference.
Mac Brunson, president of the 2003 Pastors' Conference, has invited the SBC Council on Family Life to present the Kingdom Family Rally during the Monday evening Pastors' Conference session June 16 in Phoenix.
Brunson observed, "it would be great to have the rally on Monday night - and also to focus the whole theme of the Pastors' Conference around the family and the home and marriage."
Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, said an emphasis on strengthening families "is perhaps the most needed thing — right now — not just in the church but in the country."
The SBC Council on Family Life responded to Brunson's invitation with enthusiasm. Calling the invitation "a powerful display of unified concern for the family," Elliff said, "This is the kind of cooperative effort for which Southern Baptists have been born."
Elliff, former SBC president and pastor of Oklahoma City-area First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, noted that Brunson's invitation "speaks volumes about his heart and his spirit as a Southern Baptist statesman. We eagerly accept his invitation and look forward to partnering with the Pastors' Conference to make that evening one of historic significance for our convention."
Changing the Kingdom Family Rally from Thursday, June 19, to Monday, June 16, will simplify convention-goers' schedules in addition to eliminating an extra night's stay in Phoenix, site of the June 17-18 SBC annual meeting.
Historically, the Monday evening session of the Pastors' Conference has drawn one of the highest attendance marks of the convention week. Both Brunson and Elliff anticipate that this partnership will give added incentive for attending both the Pastors' Conference and the convention in Phoenix, a city outside the major population focus of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The rally will feature such key family experts as James and Shirley Dobson of Focus on the Family, FamilyLife's Dennis and Barbara Rainey, and author and conference leader Gary Chapman.
Elliff noted that the Kingdom Family Rally "is designed to be a wakeup call, putting Southern Baptists on record and the world on notice that we take seriously our responsibility to the family."
"What better time than now and what better place than Phoenix for us to show our solid support of such an emphasis," Elliff said. "We are praying that this will be the beginning of a move of God throughout our convention, a genuine spiritual awakening."
Brunson, in noting that the entire Sunday-Monday Pastors' Conference also will emphasize the family, said, "I think that the greatest challenge the church has today is ministering to families. And perhaps the greatest challenge that any pastor has is ministering to his own family.
"We're putting together what we hope and believe will be a conference that will minister to pastors, pastors' wives, pastors' kids and equip them to go back and be able to do ministry to families in their churches," Brunson said.
"If they've missed the Pastors' Conference over the last couple of years, this is one Pastors' Conference that they won't want to miss because of what it will mean to their families as well as to their ministry," the Dallas pastor said.
In remarks to the SBC Executive Committee earlier this year, Elliff said the rally will feature "the best of the best" among family speakers in an effort to help families regardless of any tragedies or difficulties they have weathered.
The rally will seek to nurture "a family marked by moral purity and fidelity; a family marked by a commitment to spend time each week listening to God and listening to one another; a family committed to fiscal, or financial, responsibility; committed to supporting the local church; and a family also that has committed itself to becoming involved in Great Commission projects which will reach people around the world, changing their lives and the lives of your family members as well," Elliff said.