MONTGOMERY (Neisha Roberts) — “The Church has changed since I was called to preach at 17,” Waylon Bailey said during the afternoon session of the Alabama Baptist Pastors Conference. “Not only that but the attitude toward Church has changed. Everything we do is different now.”
Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, noted the generational categories living today, calling attention to how the baby boomers were the largest group in American history and “changed everything,” including spreading the gospel. The Generation X-ers are the smallest group of all the living generations, he said, and the millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are the “least evangelized of any group.”
But just because the millennials are not seeking the gospel and not as open to hear like previous generations and hopefully generations to come, “it’s not hopeless now.”
Just before 2 Timothy, Bailey noted, the tone in Paul’s letter was optimistic. Paul was withstanding hardships but he knew they would pass. But in 2 Timothy the tone changed. The optimism was gone but Paul had “not forgotten who the Lord is.”
“It’s easy to talk about what I believe when the people around us need to know about Whom we believe,” Bailey said, sharing from 2 Timothy 1.
The change we see today is “not hopeless because of the power that we have within us.”
“He gives power to the Church,” Bailey said. “But it’s the easiest thing in the world to lead a church based on what I can do … and lead the Holy Spirit right out of everything.
“Today is not hopeless when we are empowered to the Spirit and say, ‘Let’s get together, let’s work together and let’s serve together.’”
So in the midst of difficult ministry days what can a pastor do?
“We have to get ready,” Bailey said, “by emphasizing repentance.”
“We have to get ready to give an answer and to give help. We have to be ready by working together, lifting one another up, encouraging one another, and picking up those who fall.
“We have to be ready because it’s different now but it’s not hopeless now.”