The family reunion we call the meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention has become a part of our history. The messengers gathered in Montgomery for their first ever visit to Vaughn Forest Baptist Church as a venue for the annual meeting. This young church family was an excellent host for our gathering.
Numerous people offered positive comments about our time together. I received personally in face-time conversations and on Twitter and Facebook. I agree with the assessment that this year’s convention was a spiritual high point for us.
A number of factors helped to make this a good experience for our family of faith called Alabama Baptists. Let me comment on a few of them.
First, our devotional speakers, Wade Rials and Chris Crain, were exceptionally good with their interpretations of the convention emphasis on FutureFocus. Wade Rials challenged us to be diligent in our efforts in seeking to lead our churches in church revitalization.
As a young pastor, Wade has been on the front lines of this endeavor. He was passionate and practical as he poured out his heart concerning this huge need in the life of our Alabama Baptist churches. It was very well received by the people.
Chris Crain is another young pastor who has distinguished himself in ministry for the Lord. Chris has led his church at South Roebuck to be a church planting home base for new congregations in areas in the metro Birmingham region. He is now a veteran of such efforts, and he can and does speak from personal experience related to these challenges.
Both of these young pastors represented two of the main emphases of our FutureFocus template for the future. Wade Rials has led a church experiencing distress and difficulty back to the point of vitality and visionary focus. This is a good testimony of what The Lord can do in and through our churches. Chris Crain has given mature leadership to an innovative approach to church planting.
Phil Waldrep was right on target with his message Tuesday night. Using a pastoral prayer of the Apostle Paul as his biblical basis, he led us through a practical understanding of how we can go deeper in our prayer lives and be catalysts for The Lord to use in spiritual awakening in Alabama and beyond. His winsome, humble spirit communicated so well to those who joined for worship Tuesday evening.
Lawrence Phipps, the host pastor at Vaughn Forest, reminded us of our need to hope in the Lord and not in any human leader or political structure. This was a timely reminder of responsibility to be kingdom citizens while we are pilgrims in this land we call our temporal home. Lawrence and his church family hosted us so very well during the Pastors Conference and the state convention, and for that they are to be commended.
The report of the Great Commission FutureFocus Task Force was well received. For two years, this task force has been diligently working on a template for future ministry. They developed and presented a fair and balanced plan for the days ahead. Obviously, no one can predict the future in terms of the economy or other circumstantial matters, but this task force took their responsibilities very seriously as they prayed and planned for the presentation.
One of our fine pastors came up to me after the Tuesday evening service and said, “Well, we had church today. I could feel the Lord’s presence.” I responded, “Those are my sentiments exactly. Thanks for sharing your assessment with me.”
I know convention meetings have to focus on reports and business matters. That is a given. However, I must say I enjoy the worship of the Lord and the fellowship with His people during our annual gatherings. My life is enriched by these times of worship and fellowship. Indeed, “we can have church” even in convention settings.