I have just returned from the 2015 annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Let me say, in the 10 plus years I have been in ministry, the annual meetings have rarely been something to look forward too. This year started the same, with one exception.Five years ago, I sat at the annual meeting in Springfield, MO. I, along with a few of my ministry friends sat on the back row in the University Plaza Expo Center. I will not speak for the others, but I was less than excited to be there. It was disheartening to hear of the continual lawsuits, arguments over social issues, and even the judgmental looks from the previous generation of pastors towards a young pastor who was tattooed up and did not wear a suit to the convention.
But, in one moment at that convention, God moved. David Uth was preaching a message about Paul’s trip to Rome from Acts 27. As he finished his sermon, he asked, “What is your Rome?” In that moment, I looked at one of my best friends and mentors in the ministry and said, “I know what my Rome is! God is calling me to plant a church”.
I did not know where, with who, or how, but I knew He was calling me and sending me. I went back to the hotel, shared with my wife, and then we freaked out! I left that convention with a call that has changed the life of my family and I. We have since been able to plant Anchor Church in Sikeston, MO. We have seen un-churched people come to faith in Christ, be baptized and become disciple-making machines for the glory of God! We have seen de-churched people have the opportunity to be in a congregation of people that love them and has helped them become an active part of the body of Christ, to the praise of His name. It has been incredible to see what the work of the Holy Spirit in that moment at the annual meeting has opened the door too.
Now, fast forward to this week. The 2015 MBC Annual Meeting in the same town and the same building. There were still those lawsuits being discussed and unfortunately continued. There were still the occasional stare at this tatted pastor. There was even still some discussion on social issues. But, more importantly, the Holy Spirit was at work again.
As I reflect on this meeting, two things stand out to me. First, I believe that the true Gospel was made much of this week. Over and over, through preaching, singing and even casual conversation, the Gospel was the main topic of discussion. Second, we have been clearly called to understand and remember the power of prayer. As the great movements of God in church history were discussed, prayer was at the forefront. One speaker even said that prayer “must be the engine, not the caboose”. There was mention of the impact of prayer through discussion of the Haystack prayer meeting, the Jesus Movement, George Whitefield and of course Spurgeon.
The Holy Spirit moved again! In the same building, in the same town, with many of the same people as 5 years previous. My heart has been drawn to a renewed passion for the Gospel and an understanding of the need and importance of prayer in my life and the life of the Church. I cannot wait to see how God uses this past week for His glory over the coming days, weeks and years!