|EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.
Today's From the States features reports from statewide evangelism conferences in three states:
Mississippi (The Baptist Record)
Oklahoma (The Baptist Messenger)
Tennessee (Baptist & Reflector)
evangelism resurgence statewide
By Tony Martin
BRANDON, Miss. (The Baptist Record)--Participants in the 2012 State Evangelism Conference, held Jan. 29 - 30 at Brandon Church, Brandon, experienced something special. From inspiring and exciting musical worship to messages from some of Southern Baptist's statesmen, attendees left encouraged, enlightened, and enthused.
What made it special?
According to Don Lum, director of the Evangelism Department of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, several factors played into making the event such a success. "For one, the environment created by the Brandon Church family, from the pastor and staff on down, made it happen. Everyone had a role. Church members saw it as an opportunity to minister to others."
The conference began Sunday night with praise and worship led by Marc Ivey, of Lynchburg, Va., and a message from Kevin Hamm, pastor of First Church, Gardendale, Ala.
Monday morning began with worship led by Ivey and another message from Hamm. "I still believe in a God who can bring revival," said Hamm, "and it begins with you and me." Using Revelation 2:1-5 as his text, Hamm said, "We can think we're right and doctrinally correct and still not have passion. We have a form of godliness but our hearts are far from God. We're just going through the motions."
After another season of praise and worship from Ivey, Sammy Gilbreath, director of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Convention, spoke. Gilbreath spoke on how so many churches get "used to the dark." He continued by stating, "You lose your burden . We can lose it in Sunday School — it can become more about teaching historical facts than saving grace. You can lose it with deacons — they become more interested in being administrative watchdogs than suffering servants." Gilbreath went on to say that we can lose our urgency, we can lose our dreams, and we can lose our desires.
After a break for lunch, the final four speakers structured their messages around the theme of the conference, "A Life, A Cross, A Tomb, a Living Lord." Bill Stafford from Chattanooga, Tenn., spoke on A Life. "People are trying to find any kind of religion that doesn't call for any sacrifice." Speaking from 2 Peter 1 about "real Christianity," Stafford said, "Salvation is just the beginning. He spends the rest of the time knocking me out of me. God saved us not because He needs us but because we need Him … if you go to church and haven't repented lately, you aren't walking with God."
Junior Hill of Hartselle, Ala., spoke on A Cross. His message concerning "covering the cross" stated that we cover the cross when we reject God's examination; when we ignore God's propitiation; when we ignore the matter of imputation; and when we disrespect God's renunciation. "Jesus paid it all," Hill said. "We might not do much for Jesus when we don't understand what He has done for us. You can be just like Jesus but it won't bring you righteousness. The best of our righteousness is like filthy rags."
Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, spoke on A Tomb. Using Matthew 28 as his text, Futral said, "The tomb is as vital as any other part of the Easter story. These are three days out of about a thousand days of Jesus' ministry. The tomb is where many of us live, wondering if God Almighty can do anything in our lives now. People come to our churches wondering the same thing."
After dinner, Mickey Dalrymple, retired pastor from Columbus and currently living in Brandon, spoke on A Living Lord. Drawing from Revelation 1:9 and following, Dalrymple's message dealt with the encounter with Jesus, the exaltation of Jesus, and the encouragement from Jesus. "How should we spend the rest of our lives?" Dalrymple asked. "We should live our lives anticipating we are going to encounter the living Lord." Speaking to pastors, Dalrymple said, "I don't know what you're going back to , but I (God) will be there when you get there."
"It was great to hear some of God's most gifted preachers," said Lum. "These are men we've gained from for so many years. I sit back and thank God that He showed up, just as He did during the planning of the conference. God just met us."
This article originally appeared in The Baptist Record (mbcb.org/business_services/br/), newsjournal of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Tony Martin is associate editor of The Baptist Record.
2012 State Evangelism Conference:
Know Christ to teach Christ
By Bob Nigh
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (The Baptist Messenger)--The Monday afternoon session of the State Evangelism Conference Jan. 30-31 began with greetings from Tim Gentry, evangelism specialist with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Gentry gave a brief update on the travels of the convention's "MY316" car, which he has driven more than 38,000 miles during the past two years.
Gentry announced that he has passed the car on to Ron Clement, prayer & evangelism team leader with the Colorado Baptist General Convention. Oklahoma Baptists began a new three-year partnership with Colorado Baptists this year.
The conference's first speaker was the pastor of the host church, Doug Melton, who also is president of the convention. Melton was charged with speaking about biblical evangelism.
"We are talking about teaching Christ personally and to teach Christ personally, you have to know Him personally," he said. "It has to be your story. If you think about it, all of our lives are lived in the context of stories .... the key, then, is understanding that all of our stories are all under THE big story. There is the much bigger story that we're all a part of ... whenever we think about that bigger story, we go back to the beginning.
"A person's view of that big story will greatly influence how they view their own life story. A person's understanding of how it all began impacts how they view their own life story. We will never fully understand ourselves or what we are supposed to do until we understand our place in the big story.
"That's why I'm so thankful that we have the story. The Word of God tells us the story. I want you to hear today THE story."
Melton then presented a dramatic monologue titled, "The Greatest Story Ever Told," beginning in the book of Genesis and telling the redemptive story of Christ's love through our Savior's death, burial and resurrection.
Former BGCO president Emerson Falls, pastor of Oklahoma City, Glorieta, was next, and he asked the audience, "Do you think the Gospel could be effectively lost in one generation?"
Letting that thought sink in, he then asked, "How many of us are actually concerned that the Gospel could be lost in one generation?"
Using Judges 2:6-11 as his text, Falls reminded those present that the Gospel could be lost in one generation because it happened before when the generation after Joshua strayed from the Lord—The Lost Generation.
"The elders knew the work of the Lord, but the next generation didn't get it," Falls exclaimed. "They got so focused on the work of the Lord that they forgot the Lord of the work!
"It's true for some of us today. We get so busy, we don't hear God when He speaks. But, we're experts at doing church!"
Falls bemoaned the rise of mega churches that have smaller impact.
"I don't know about you, but I don't want to get to the end of my ministry and find that I have been successful at the wrong thing," he said.
"We need to ask ourselves: Is what we're doing now going to produce disciples in the next generation? I doubt it."
Falls said making disciples is at the heart of the Great Commission.
"The Great Commission is about teaching Christ personally," he said. "And to be teaching, we need to be doing, We need to learn how to spend time with lost people."
He pledged to do two things in his own life.
"I'm making two commitments today," he concluded. "One, I've got to personally win lost people to Jesus. And to do that, I've got to spend more time with lost people. And two, I will personally teach a small group of people to do the same thing. Then, the Gospel will spread.
"Then those people will each teach a small group and then each of them will teach a small group, and so on. And, soon we will have an army of God taking it to the streets."
Wrapping up session one, Jeremy Freeman, pastor of Newcastle, First, spoke on "Making the Mist Matter Missionally."
The "mist," referring to a human lifespan, which is referred to as a mist in James 4:14 that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
"We are in need of a fresh move from God," Freeman declared. "We have a short time when compared to eternity. What will we do with the mist God gives us?"
Focusing on that passage in James 4:13-17, Freeman said, "You have no idea what tomorrow will bring. He quoted a line: "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last," which is from a poem written by missionary C.T. Studd, and gave a list of five points to help his listeners make sure their "mist" matters.
1. We must be intent on seeking God.
"Presumptuous thinking leads us to forget our ignorance, forget our frailty and forget our great need and dependence on God," Freeman said.
2. We need to be intentional.
"We need to live with the end in mind. Only what is done for Christ will last."
3. We need to invest in others. "Most people would rather build a building than invest in a life; it begins in our homes and extends into the lives of the people God puts around us."
4. We must take the initiative. "Baptist churches are full of spectators. We must expect, push and motivate our people to take the initiative. It's a sad reality we have to beg people to serve."
5. We, as Christians, must insist on doing God's will.
This article originally appeared in The Baptist Messenger (baptistmessenger.com), newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. Bob Nigh is managing editor of The Baptist Messenger.
TBC holds first More Life Rally: Ministers, laypeople Continued...