Josh Lancaster, pastor of Underwood Baptist Church, Florence, opened the morning session with the message “Dealing with Disappointment” from 2 Samuel 7.
“You are an individual person and God deals with you individually. God is personal, He knows your wishes. He knows your ways. … God’s ‘No’ today doesn’t mean it will be forever,” Lancaster said.
“God can handle our anger, our disappointments and our broken hearts. … God is provisional. … God still extends grace in the midst of your pain. God still guarantees in the midst of your pain.”
Dan Garland, LifeWay Christian Resources regional director, urged those in the congregation to focus on the hurting and “the ‘one’ instead of the masses” when sharing the gospel, referencing from Acts 3.
Garland said what changes people is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and maybe the reason churches are dying is because “we’re not convinced Jesus will change people’s lives.”
“There’s a lot of people that think they cannot come to Jesus Christ but the truth is we have to go get them. We have to let them know they can come to Jesus just as they are.”
Herb Reavis Jr. shared from Acts 20 at the conference.
“If you’re going to reach your community it’s going to take a worship service that is alive,” said Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
“Worship should be a time of celebration, adoration, proclamation, illumination and elevation. We are surrounded by a culture of darkness but we’ve got the Light and I believe that when people come to church they ought to get the gospel. The gospel gives people light.
“Every soul counts. You’re not responsible for the visible results. You’re responsible to sow the gospel seed.”
Scott Dawson, of the Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, shared during the afternoon session, relating ministry to running a marathon.
There’s a start to the race, running the race itself and finishing the race, Dawson said.
He said there are three marks that should be on a believer’s life in order to “finish the race” of ministry. 1) You will be spiritual. 2) You will be humble. 3) You will be persistent.
“If we’re going to have a ministry that lasts, it’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus. Be passionate about Jesus,” Dawson said.
Thomas Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church, Alpharetta, Ga., closed the afternoon session speaking about Mark 2 and a “faith that is real, visible, obvious and tangible.”
“Faith demands action. … I believe we see churches falling apart because we haven’t attempted to do anything bigger than us in a long time,” Hammond said.
“Every church in America has ministries but the problem is they are either focused on people that already are saved or they are ministries that have lost their effectiveness but we keep doing them because we’re comfortable doing them. … If we meet people at their point of need then what we’ll see is transformation.”
For the morning and afternoon sessions, participants heard several familiar and several new songs from Daniel Crews, resident artist at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
Kevin Hamm, pastor of Gardendale First Baptist Church, was the evening session speaker, with special music by the church’s choir and praise team.
Hamm shared from Mark 2 and suggested four reasons why American doesn’t see revivals anymore. 1) There is no real burden for the lost. 2) There is no real passion for Jesus. 3) There’s no real openness to change. 4) There’s no real celebration in the church.
A candlelight vigil and prayer for revival for the nation marked the evening session. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, introduced the prayer time as “what do you do when you don’t know what to do — pray.”
Look for a full coverage of the conference in the March 5 issue of The Alabama Baptist.