SCBC Leaders Equipped with Tools to Advance and Reach ‘One’

South Carolina Baptists are continuing to carry the hope of the gospel and a message of racial unity into 2019. Church leadership from across the state gathered Feb. 21 at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia for Impact, an event designed to equip, inspire and foster fellowship. Resources from that event are now available online.

“The question for all of us is ‘who’s your one?’ If this year every SC Baptist had one person far from God and close to them that they spent time praying for, caring for in relationship and sharing the hope of the gospel, then over 300,000 people who are far from God today would be saturated with the gospel. If we did that consistently for a decade, we would saturate the entire population of lost people in our state,” says Lee Clamp, Evangelism team leader with the South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC).

“We believe that any church, any size, anywhere can advance in fulfilling the Great Commission,” said SCBC Associate Executive Director Jay Hardwick. Referring to the Advance wheel as a visual representation of a Great Commission culture, Hardwick challenged church leadership to identify where their church is today in order to identify their next step in fulfilling the Great Commission. The concept also transfers to personal evangelism.

“Our desire is that all 2,125 SC Baptist churches would be strong churches, led by strong healthy leaders with vibrant, life-giving worship and a clear plan and process to make and multiply disciples. We long for all churches to be looking into their community seeking ways to mobilize members to serve and make a difference outside of the walls of the church, engaging new ‘ones’ so that we can then share the hope of the gospel,” Hardwick explained.

Headlining Impact speaker Bryan Loritts, pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California, tackled the issue of racial barriers as he encouraged South Carolina Baptists to truly live life with folks who don’t think, act, look or even vote like they do. He suggested that following Jesus is an “adventure into strange,” because loving anyone long enough leads you to unique and different situations.

“Sanctuaries reflect dinner tables. If your sanctuaries aren’t strange, your dinner tables aren’t strange. For all of our books, conferences and pulpit exchanges the people of God will never substantively move the ball down the line as an instrument of racial reconciliation unless we have love,” Loritts said.

What resources exist to help churches Advance in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Impact attendees had access to several dozen breakout sessions exploring relevant issues including evangelism to refugees, creating gospel-centered family experiences and growing disciples on mission. Each breakout presentation was recorded and will be accessible soon within the SC Baptist mobile app, adding further value to participants and those unable to attend the event. The result is a collection of innovative and practical Advance resources for church leadership seeking to advance the gospel in their setting.

Some resources are specifically tailored to the personal and spiritual growth of church leadership. Bishop A.B. Vines, current first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of New Seasons Church in San Diego, California, shared Three Pillars of Hope from scriptures revealed to him in a time of personal turmoil, which Vines then used to launch his church plant.

“Some of you want to give up today. Don’t quit, you need to know how the story ends. We have hope and help in God’s word,” Vines said.

Access other Impact presentations addressing real-life questions church leaders have about ministry and organization. Brandon Bowers, pastor of Awaken Church in Charleston, explained the leadership pipeline his church uses to engage new believers and shepherd them into leadership roles. He emphasized the importance of intentionally modeling leadership.

“Pipelines lead to progress. I want to show new members that what I’m doing you can also do one day. It’s also important to give a ton of grace, because creating that culture gives leaders grace, too,” Bowers said.

Additional online breakout session content tackles issues of race relations and understanding head on. Dual presenters Philip Pinckney, pastor of Radiant Church in Charleston, and Josh Powell, pastor of Lake Murray Baptist Church in Lexington, linked South Carolina Baptists’ history on race relations with a conversation about reconciliation. Pinckney proposed that racial unity can be achieved through honest work in the areas of inclusion, equality and restoration.

Other content, such as Walter Belton’s “Urban Legends: Rethinking Inner-City Ministries,” can help a church define a ministry while discerning if God is calling their church to that ministry. “You can’t do urban ministry unless you’re willing to get involved and genuinely love people. A church must connect with the community, show interest in what that community cares about and be willing to invest time,” said Belton, pastor of Word of Change Ministries in Spartanburg.

In his closing challenge to Impact participants reentering their church ministry fields, NewSpring Church Pastor Clayton King illustrated the importance of being accessible in their communities in order to have gospel conversations.

“Think about that one person that God has already visited and will put before you at some point. Let’s don’t assume that people don’t want to talk about God, let’s assume God is already talking to them. It’s our great joy to step into that conversation,” King said.

What’s Your Next Move?

The SCBC is ready to help churches identify their next move to Advance in fulfilling the Great Commission. Resources are available online at www.scbaptist.org, and through the updated SC Baptist app that is now available for download. Advance resources may be found within the app under the heading “Your Next Move.”