“Pastor Mike Hess, could you fulfill faithful gospel ministry if you, perchance, got the job of team chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals?”

“You know, I trust in God’s goodness and providence, that He would never do that to me.”

So began the Thursday morning speaker’s panel at the 2017 GARBC Conference. The playful icebreaker questions didn’t stop there; other participants were variously questioned about possible connections to the mob, preferred tattoo designs, favorite bedtime stories, and the best strategies for eliminating excess ear hair.

The panel discussion was moderated by Mike Augsburger (pastor of Willow Creek Baptist Church, West Des Moines, Iowa), and included all five of the conference’s featured speakers: John Greening (national representative of the Regular Baptist Churches), Mike Hess (pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Mount Pleasant, Iowa), Jim Tillotson (president of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa), Steve Viars (pastor of Faith Church, Lafayette, Indiana), and Don Shirk (pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Batavia, New York).

After each speaker endured one of Augsburger’s jocular questions, the discussion turned to more serious matters. The various subjects addressed included these:

  • Theological moorings undergirding the pastoral ministry
  • Major challenges facing our association
  • Practical steps for smaller churches to engage in community outreach
  • Strategies for dealing with “church bullies”
  • Key first-year objectives for new pastors
  • Knowing when it is appropriate to transition into a new ministry