DAPHNE, Alabama (TAB) — “Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze if that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols. We must not worship something that’s not even worth it. Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it.”
With a theme based on the song “Clear the Stage,” Alabama Baptist pastors, their wives and other ministry leaders were encouraged to “Clear the Stage” of their life and ministry during the Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference held at Eastern Shore Baptist Church, Daphne, on Nov. 16.
Led by Greg Pouncey, Pastors Conference president and pastor of First Baptist Church, Tillman’s Corner, in Mobile, participants heard about “clearing their stage” for evangelism, for vision and leadership, for the gospel, for the presence of God, for revival, for purity and clearing the stage of ministry idols.
The University of Mobile’s Voices of Mobile and RamCorps performed during the morning and afternoon sessions. Alan Fath, worship pastor at Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile, and Tommy Quinn, worship minister at First, Tillman’s Corner, along with a praise team, led worship throughout the day.
Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Florida, kicked off the morning session with a message from Jude 24 and 25. He said there are four things a believer needs to do to clear the stage and prepare for God’s presence: 1) Give God the glory. 2) Give God majesty. 3) Give God dominion, or ruling control of your life. 4) Give God all authority through radical obedience.
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, shared from 1 Thessalonians 1:9 about how to clear the stage of ministry idols.
“Idolatry is a sin and a problem for us all,” Stetzer said. “It’s not an Old Testament thing. Heart idolatry is something we struggle with today. … When idolatry guides us, idolatry dominates us.”
Alan Floyd, pastor of Cottage Hill Baptist Church, Mobile, shared about clearing the stage for evangelism from Matthew 4:19 using an analogy of fishing.
“The essence of following Jesus is to fish for men,” Floyd said. “If we are not fishing, are we really following? … We are not doing the catching, we are fishing. The Father catches the fish.”
He encouraged listeners to not forget to tell their own “fish story” about how God saved them and to “cast the nets” because “you cannot catch unless you cast.”
In the afternoon Len Turner, of Len Turner Ministries, shared a personal testimony of how God taught him about clearing the stage for His grace after he resigned from his ministry several years ago and was hospitalized because of self-imposed stress and depression, he said. Through that difficult season God taught him four things, he said: 1) God loves you and me unconditionally. 2) God never stops providing for His own. 3) God never withdrew His anointing, His power and His blessing for my life. 4) God never withdrew His call on my life.
Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, shared from Romans 10 about clearing the stage for the gospel.
“Every great movement of God is on the back of simple gospel preaching,” Allen said. “Too few preaching actually hones in on the human heart and the fact that everyone is hopelessly lost … without the saving knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ.
“Sometimes the best gospel encounters find you and sometimes the best gospel encounters are begging for you to find them.”
Willy Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Clearwater, Florida, shared about clearing the stage for vision and leadership.
“You are one vision away from a changed ministry,” Rice said, noting that a vision or insight from the Lord will create change, create conflict to work through and create a cause to fight for.
Also during the afternoon session Daven Watkins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pelham, was nominated and elected as the Pastors Conference upcoming second vice president, to serve alongside Teman Knight (2016 president), Rob Jackson (2nd vice president to serve as president in 2017) and Bobby Freeman, treasurer.
In the evening a combined choir and orchestra from Cottage Hill Baptist and First, Tillman’s Corner performed. Two drama presentations captivated the audience while they emphasized the power of God and the miracles of Jesus.
John Avant, pastor of First Baptist Church Concord, Knoxville, Tennessee, opened the evening session sharing from Micah 6:8 about “what we must do and what God will do.”
Too often, Avant said, the Church’s problem is that “we view our missions field as our opponents.”
“However much we disagree with them (those that are lost), they are not our enemies. They are our missions field,” he said, noting that the “great missing key to revival is humility — being daily consumed by Christ; called to others; and crucified to self.”
Don Wilton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina, closed out the conference with a heartfelt plea for participants to clear the stage for purity, sharing from Revelation 2.
“Jesus commended (the church) for their faithfulness and condemned them for their unfaithfulness,” Wilton said.
In the passage, Jesus is speaking to the church at Thyatira, where Christians were being asked (and at times forced) into incorporating immoral and sexual acts into their lives in order to survive and fit into the culture.
But it wasn’t the sinful world that Jesus was condemning in Thyatira, it was the compromise within the church that He condemned.
“It’s not the cause of all the evil of everyone else or the sin-sick world, but the growing cancer within the church. It’s the poor role models inside of the church,” Wilton said.
But such is God’s grace, Wilton said, that He also commended the church for their love, faith, service and perseverance. He even “takes the time to tell us that He would have given His grace to Jezebel, had she accepted it.”
“Perhaps we need to clear the stage so that only He would get the glory.”
Look for a full coverage of the Pastors Conference in the Nov. 26 issue.