Why I’m Excited About the Pillar International Conference

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I’ve had the May 2024 Pillar International Conference at Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland, circled on my calendar for the past year. When I made the decision to attend the 2023 conference, my intent was two-fold: to learn more about the heart and DNA of Pillar International and their pastors and churches; and secondly, to determine how Reaching & Teaching and Pillar International could cooperate in the strengthening and establishing of biblically sound churches in Europe and around the world. The week was deeply encouraging and went beyond my expectations. This past year, the fruit of that week, and RTIM’s ongoing relationship with Pillar International have been clearly evident.

As I look forward to this year’s conference, here are 4 things that excite me:

One of the many strengths of the conference is the intentional focus on expository preaching, and this year is no exception. Ken Mbugua, Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Nairobi, Kenya; Tiago Olivera, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lisbon, Portugal; Richard McConnell, Senior Pastor of Blackrock Community Church, Dublin, Ireland; and Nate Akin, the Executive Director of the Pillar Network will be preaching from 2 Timothy 4. I look forward to the encouragement from the words of the Apostle Paul as he wrote to Timothy to encourage him to stay steady amid difficulty in ministry.

This year, the day before the conference begins, we are gathering with a number of RTIM workers who are ministering throughout Europe. Local church ministry in Europe has unique challenges and we hope to encourage one another in the task before us. Challenges such as aggressive and acute secularism, declining indigenous populations, and the vestiges of former state religions make local church ministry in Western Europe particularly difficult and discouraging. Please pray as we come together to learn, teach, pray, and encourage one another at this special gathering.

Healthy, biblically likeminded churches in Europe, and in most of the world for that matter, are generally few and far between. I was recently reminded of this reality during a conversation with a pastor in Italy who is pastoring a likeminded church and who has a broad understanding of the state of the churches in Italy. When I asked him to estimate the number of healthy, or at least on their way toward health, ecclesiologically likeminded churches in the country, he shared that there were at most thirty, likely less, in the entire country of Italy.

One of the strengths of Pillar International is the effective networking that takes place between likeminded pastors and churches. This networking allows for the pastors to collaborate as they serve in unique and difficult ministry contexts. The opportunity to share struggles, victories, and to rub shoulders with other faithful brothers is often life giving to pastors who are ministering in what can be described as a spiritual desert. Often, new friendships and ministry partnerships are formed that enhance the gospel work thought the world.

Not only is the networking valuable for the pastors, but it also allows RTIM to better understand the needs in the Pillar International churches and how we can serve them as an organization. Often there is a need to facilitate in the sending of a missionary from a US based Pillar Network church to a Pillar International church. The conference allows us to understand the needs and opportunities more accurately and, as a result, to serve the churches and missionaries more effectively.

The opportunity to meet and interact with pastors from around the world is a highlight of the week and one that I look forward to with great anticipation. What a humbling experience it is to meet pastors who, although ministering in local churches in vastly varied contexts, are united in the common desire and conviction to see the church be the means that God uses to reach the nations and strengthen the church around the world. The privilege to rejoice with them as they share the joys and victories in ministry, and to cry and pray with them as they describe the difficulties of their respective ministries. It reminds me that God uses the ordinary means of grace in the church, no matter the cultural context or language. Pray for effective new relationships with pastors that will further the work of the gospel around the world in, and through, the local church.

So yes, I look forward with great excitement to the preconference RTIM Europe gathering as well as the Pillar International Conference, May 14-17. Pray with us that the missionaries will be encouraged, relationships established and strengthened, and that the work of the gospel and the glory of God around the world would be at the forefront of the week.

Peter Brock

Peter Brock serves Reaching & Teaching as Regional Leader for Europe & MENA. He and his wife, Lisa, served as missionary church planters in Italy from 1993 – 2003. They currently reside in Louisville, KY. Previous to moving to Louisville, Peter served as Missions Pastor at Faith Baptist Church of Winter Haven which allowed him to travel extensively and see firsthand the needs around the world for discipleship and teaching. While in this role, he also served as President of Faith Baptist Mission. Peter has a deep passion to serve missionaries well, to see the truth of the gospel preserved, and to see 2 Timothy 2:2 carried out in churches throughout the world. Peter and Lisa have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

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