Senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist, in New Orleans, for 32 years
Luter is senior minister of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. He has been with the congregation since 1986, when it had 65 members. Before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, the congregation had grown to over 7000 members, making it the largest congregation affiliated with SBC in Louisiana. Luter led the rebuilding of the membership after the diaspora from Katrina, and as of his election to the Southern Baptist presidency the congregation had 5000 members. Luter’s strategy for congregational growth is rooted in his concept “FRANgelism”—the acronym “FRAN” standing for friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors in acts of networking people into the life of the congregation.
Lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, a healthy small church in Orange County, California for 25 years
Karl Vaters is also the author of two books about small churches. The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us, and the upcoming Small Church Essentials (releasing in March, 2018). On his blog Pivot, he writes about Innovative Leadership from a Small Church Perspective for ChristianityToday.com several times a week. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a ministry that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors.
Karl’s heart is to help pastors of Small Churches (about 90% of churches) find the resources to pastor their current church well, and to capitalize on the unique advantages that come with pastoring a Small Church – something virtually every pastor will spend at least some of their ministry years doing. He also believes that big and small churches can and should work together more often – to the benefit of each.
Lead pastor Hope Hull United Methodist Church in Hope Hull Alabama
Dr. Matt O’Reilly is pastor of Hope Hull United Methodist Church, near Montgomery, AL, a fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians, and Adjunct Professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary where he teaches courses in New Testament, preaching, and worship. In addition to writing for several journals and edited volumes, Matt is the author of a forthcoming book on 1-2 Thessalonians in Seedbed’s OneBook series of Bible studies. Follow @mporeilly or connect at OrthodoxyForEveryone.com.
Along with thirteen years of pastoral experience, Matt teaches graduate courses on Bible interpretation, preaching, worship, apologetics, and pastoral leadership at Wesley Biblical Seminary and Houston Baptist University. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Gloucestershire, an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Auburn University.
Mark Merrill, DMin
District Superintendent of the Georgia Assemblies of God
Dr. Mark Merrill serves as District Superintendent of the Georgia Assemblies of God. Previously, he led the District’s initiatives in Church Health and Revitalization. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree in Semiotics, Church, and Culture, and he completed his dissertation on Church Revitalization.