Several months ago I was asked to serve on a newly forming team in the Stanly Baptist Association, the Church Revitalization Team. Dr. Hal Bilbo was putting a team of pastors together who are working in some way in seeing the churches they serve experience revitalization. Along with myself there are four other pastors from SBA who agreed to serve on this team. In agreeing to serve we all committed to go to Orlando, FL November 2-6 and attend the Renovate Church Conference at Aloma Baptist Church, and so we did.
We had a great time getting to know one another during the drive down, eating meals together, worshiping together during the main sessions, and driving home. These are some great and godly men: Tommy Ross, Mark Little, Scott Williams, and Ron Loflin. They have a great heart to see God do a new thing in some "old" places in Stanly county. We want to be used of God to make it happen right here where we work, play, and raise our kids.
Let me share with you some of the titles of the breakout sessions (some listed I attended and some others attended): Becoming an Effective Change Agent in Revitalization-Dr. Will McRaney, How to Utilize Church Renewal Journey Weekends-Bob Foy, The Importance of Prayer in Church Revitalization-Vince Manna, Powerful Conversations that can Revitalize Your Church-Dr. Bob Bumgarner, Zombie Church Revitalization: How to Raise the "Dead Church" without Dying Yourself-Rob Myers, Church Revitalization: Every Believer a Witness-Dennis Nunn. There was a multitude of other choices, and listening to the guys on the SBA team they were all powerful. The five I chose to attend were ones I felt would help and challenge me personally and/or be helpful in leading Highland.
The main session speakers included: Dr. Ed Stetzer, Dr. Micah Fries, Dr. Lenny Luchetti, Dr. Bob Whitesel, Dr. K.P. Yohannan, Dr. Kevin Ezell, Dr. Larry Wynn, and Dr. Dennis Mitchell. Each of these men shared powerful messages of encouragement, vision, caution, and passion about revitalizing the local church in America and how desperately it's needed.
A powerful quote from Dr. Will McRaney was "A church will either choose to die to itself and live or it will just die."
"Ministry is the perfect avenue for the crucifixion of the ego." "God designed ministry for the spiritual formation of the minister." "We are called to lead out of bondage, through barrenness, and into blessing." Dr. Lenny Luchetti
"However beautiful the strategy it is occasionally helpful to look at the results." Winston Churchill quoted by Dr. Ed Stetzer
"When you know who you ARE in Christ you also know who you AREN'T." "Acceptance is a two way street. If I must accept you as you are you must also accept me as I am." "Faith has to override our thinking. You must stop thinking some of things you are thinking." "What you think about can deceive you." "God doesn't do a miracle and then make a mess." "You either have character or you will become one." "Never lose your integrity over someone who doesn't have it." Dr. Paul Smith
The conference and experience happened very quickly. But I have so much to think and pray through. There will be many conversations with our team about this time together, and I can't wait. I can't wait to see what God does in Stanly county as He begins to revitalize us as never before.