In August, BJU Seminary faculty Dr. Kerry McGonigal and Dr. Ken Casillas spoke at Conferencia Adiestra hosted by Iglesia Bautista Tabernáculo in Greenville, South Carolina. The conference was designed by Pastor Juan Fernandez to be a continuing education tool for Hispanic pastors. Spanish-speaking pastors from the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba attended.
McGonigal and Casillas took turns speaking on the philosophy behind expository preaching and its practical steps. In speaking of the conference as a whole, McGonigal said, “This represents (BJU Seminary’s) burden and our philosophy of preaching, the expository philosophy of preaching. It’s what we teach here.”
A Change in Plans
Fernandez first sparked the idea of a conference for Hispanic pastors when he was looking for one himself and only found those he had already attended. Dissatisfied with the repetitive content at those conferences, Fernandez decided to start his own, calling it Conferencia Adiestra. Adiestra translates “to train,” which is Fernandez’s goal: to equip Spanish-speaking pastors to be better shepherds of their God-given flocks.
In the meantime, Fernandez felt the need to grow professionally. Since he “could not find a conference where (he) sat down for a class to sharpen old tools or acquire new ones,” he decided to enroll in BJU Seminary’s doctor of ministry (DMin) program. “What I learned on expository preaching changed my ministry! I understood that most of the time Hispanics preach thematic messages. I found that this type of preaching was the one I mainly practiced, opening the door to preach preferences as doctrine.”
A Change of Topic
It was this emphasis on expository preaching that influenced Fernandez’s change in topic for the 2019 Conferencia Adiestra. Originally, he planned to focus on business administration for pastors. However, once Fernandez realized the value of expository preaching training, he made expository preaching the first topic of Conferencia Adiestra. “In view of the need among Hispanics for expository preaching, and because my course of studies taught me the importance of preaching, our church agreed to sponsor Adiestra.”
Fernandez is passionate about other Spanish-speaking pastors receiving the same training he is within the DMin program. He was able to collaborate with BJU Seminary to not just provide speakers and content, but to also assist with accommodation. While they slept on the BJU campus, visiting pastors received a condensed version of the class Expository Preaching from the Epistles. According to McGonigal, the instructor of Fernandez’s class, “It was essentially what (Fernandez) got but put within the context of a conference for pastors.”
Expository training isn’t easily accessible in the Spanish-speaking world. McGonigal said he spoke with one pastor at Conferencia Adiestra who had been in ministry for approximately 30 years yet “had never been exposed to this kind of step-by-step instruction on the process of working from a text to a sermon”—a fact which makes opportunities such as Conferencia Adiestra more valuable.
But church administration, Fernandez’s original idea, will be a topic in the future. Fernandez plans to address it at the 2020 Conferencia Adiestra. Future topics also include biblical counseling, apologetics and hermeneutics.
A Change in Location?
Conferencia Adiestra may be just the beginning. Casillas has the opportunity to take the content to the Dominican Republic. Said Casillas, “One of these men asked me to go to the Dominican Republic next summer to basically do the same thing. So it’s definitely something we can grow.”