Southern Seminary hosts historic Spanish-language conference
Southern Seminary’s 9Marks at Southern conference looked and sounded different this year, as the seminary hosted its first-ever conference entirely in Spanish. A Feb. 27 Hispanic pastors’ conference was held in conjunction with the annual two-day 9Marks conference for pastors. Miguel Núñez, Dominican pastor, author and a popular TV show host, broadcast in 20 countries, spoke at the conference, along with other pastors.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the Hispanic pastors’ conference pointed to the need and desire for outreach to the Hispanic and Latino communities.
“Southern Seminary was honored and extremely pleased to host this conference for Spanish-speaking pastors, and we were quite honestly overwhelmed with the turnout,” Mohler said in an interview about the new addition to the regular 9Marks conference. “It went far beyond anything we could have imagined. It just points to the need for Southern Baptists particularly, and evangelicals more generally, to have an intensive, strategic outreach to the Hispanic and Latino community.”
Furthermore, he said, the mission field “demands that we get serious, and we get serious fast, about joining hand-in-hand with Hispanic pastors and Christian leaders to be faithful to Christ,” noting as an example that 25 percent of Chicago residents were born in Mexico, making the United States a prime place to minister to these communities.
9Marks, a ministry of Capitol Hill Baptist Church based in Washington, D.C., helps educate and train pastors to minister in local churches. The organization emphasizes “nine marks” of a healthy church — preaching, biblical theology, the gospel, conversion, evangelism, membership, discipline, discipleship and leadership — through resources and events like the 9Marks at Southern conference.
The Hispanic pastors’ conference coincided with this year’s 9Marks at Southern conference. The event focused on pastors and their understanding of biblical theology. Pastors need to understand the different parts of Scripture in order to know the whole of Scripture and to know God accurately, according to speakers at the Feb. 28-March 1 event.
Speakers included 9Marks founder and senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Mark Dever; Mohler; G.K. Beale, professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia; David Helm, lead pastor of the Hyde Park congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, Ill.; Christian hip-hop artist Shai Linne; and Michael Lawrence, senior pastor at Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Ore.
More than 130 participants from across the U.S. attended the Hispanic pastors’ conference, which featured several prominent Hispanic pastors, including Núñez and Juan Sánchez.
The seminary streamed the conference live online, which was viewed by people around the world. This included more than 800 online viewers from countries like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Peru, Canada, Ecuador, Sweden, Uruguay, Brazil, Netherlands, Australia, India, Norway, Paraguay, Singapore and Bolivia.
Núñez, senior pastor of the International Baptist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, led a
plenary session emphasizing the first “mark” of a healthy church, according to the 9Marks formula, which is biblically-based, expository preaching.
He expounded on the need for preaching in churches that is not divorced from the text or man-centered, but God-centered and gospel-saturated. Christians are sustained and grown through God’s Word, he said, which is why biblical preaching is essential to a healthy church.
“The church is sustained by the Word of his power,” Nunez said. “Our lives are sustained by his Word of power. What causes people to be born again is the action of the Word — not the skills of the preacher, not the way we present the message, not the audiovisual resources, which we use and love. It’s the Word of his power.”
Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church, in Austin, Texas, led a session about three more of the nine marks of a healthy church: leadership, discipline and membership. He said what God is doing in churches right now is great and the miracle of the gospel is the unity of Christians from around the world.
“The miracle of the gospel is not that Mexicans and Cubans and Puerto Ricans can be together in one room,” Sanchez said. “All that takes is a football game. The wonderful thing is that Mexicans and Cubans and Puerto Ricans are together as brothers and sisters. That’s wonderful. And right there you can see God’s wisdom that brings people who were enemies and are now together at the Lord’s table.”
The event also featured several other speakers and panel discussions, including Southern Seminary missions professor M. David Sills. Attendees received a copy of the newly released Spanish language edition of A Guide to Expository Ministry, published by SBTS Press.
Southern Seminary student Chris Wong said the conference encouraged him as a student of Peruvian descent.
“It’s just an encouragement to see so many pastors here from different parts of the U.S. — the fact that they’re very zealous to do God’s work,” Wong said.
Another attendee who drove from where he pastors in central Alabama, Antonio Inestroza, said he came to the conference to learn more about pastoral ministry in the Hispanic community.
“I came because I was interested in the development of Hispanic pastoral ministry in the United States. I thank God for these opportunities,” Inestroza said, who has pastored for 42 years.
And Josué Cardoso, originally from Cuba, flew to the conference from Houston, Texas, where he serves in the Colegio de Estudios Biblicos de Houston (school of biblical studies). He came to the conference to get involved with 9Marks and to prepare for ministry.
“It is our purpose that the Latin community in Houston be better prepared. In the midst of so much confusion and many strange currents inside the church, we need to prepare better the leadership of the Latin community in the south of the U.S.,” he said.
Audio and video from both the Spanish-language conference and the English-language conference are available online at sbts.edu/resources.