Focus your heart on missions, Arizona pastors urge

By Philip William Calvert | Nov 8, 2023

Brian McCoy

Arizona pastors Brian McCoy and Gary Derbyshire addressed the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists’ annual meeting theme of “Open Your Eyes” and issued a call to missions involvement at this year’s Pastors’ Conference. The conference was held on Nov. 3 at First Baptist Church in Chandler.

For Brian McCoy, lead pastor of Foothills Baptist Church in Phoenix, his first mission trip and his reading of John Piper’s seminal book, Let the Nations be Glad!, fundamentally altered his spiritual focus and personal ministry. His vision for Foothills Baptist Church is twofold:

  • Send local church planting teams across the Valley, and
  • Send six families globally.

Jesus’ prayer for His people in John 17:18-21 was McCoy’s focus. From these verses he shared three points.

1. Like Jesus, we are sent on mission into the world.

Jesus was aware He was sent on mission, and He sends us on mission, McCoy said.

The mission set Jesus’ agenda, and His mission fueled His affection for the Father’s glory.

We, too, must be aware that we are on mission, McCoy said. We are called to help believers see their “sentness” in view of the Great Commission. May the call to the nations set our agenda and may it fuel our affection for the glory of God, he urged.

2. Jesus fits us for the mission by making us holy.

Our sanctification matters for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls around the world, McCoy said. We must look like Jesus if we are going to tell people about Jesus. The main mission of the church is to send disciples into the world to glorify God, he said. The church has the primary responsibility to help sanctify believers and to send them to the nations.

3. Our mission and message are for the world.

Unity fuels the mission, which is to share the gospel, McCoy said. Only the message of Jesus transforms cultures from darkness to light.

If we are not intentional about raising and sending disciples, there will be mission drift in the local church, he said. Meeting physical needs without an intentional focus on souls will elevate social ministries above the message of Jesus Christ.

Thus, the gospel must be first, McCoy said. Without Jesus, people will live and die without the hope of salvation and be destined for hell. Be more than merely a church-going Christian, he urged. Be a nation-going Christian.

Gary Derbyshire

Gary Derbyshire, senior pastor of Apollo Baptist Church in Glendale preached on “A Heart for Missions.” His message was centered on Philippians 1:1-11.

Derbyshire said he was raised on Cooperative Program giving. As a missionary kid, his family was fully supported by the giving of Southern Baptists. They never had to stop ministering because of a lack of funding.

International Mission Board missionaries serve knowing they are loved and supported by millions of Southern Baptists. Yet, it is possible to give missions our money but not our heart, Derbyshire said. God calls us to give our devotion to missions and not merely our dollars.

There are four things we can do to give missions our heart, Derbyshire said.

1. Our love must abound. We must fall in love with the people with whom and to whom we serve.

2. Our unity must be strong. We are called to preserve the unity of Southern Baptists by being of one spirit. The future of missions depends on our churches standing together. We must guard our unity more than we want to be right, even while we confront what needs to be corrected.

3. Our engagement must increase. Missions is church on wheels. Churches must engage with missionaries and do what they do, which is to keep the main thing the main thing every day.

4. Our joy must be complete. Even if Southern Baptists didn’t give, our missionaries would serve because our God is worthy of our faithful praise and service. We are called to joyfully support missions, which glorifies God.

In sum, the two Arizona pastors encouraged, invigorated and motivated attendees to focus their heart on missions — whether that be across the street or around the world, to make disciples, and to simply get up and go with the gospel.

Video of the Pastors’ Conference sermons may be viewed at

Philip William Calvert is senior pastor of Trinity Southern Baptist Church in Casa Grande.

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