HARVESTER – Hundreds of Missouri Baptists from various generations gathered together during the Missouri Baptist Convention’s (MBC) Great Commission Conference (GCC), Feb. 22-24, to learn how they could be ambassadors of hope and gospel transformation throughout the state.
More than 450 attendees came to the conference, including more than 250 Missouri Baptist campus missionaries and next-generation leaders, according to Matt Kearns, MBC Making Disciples catalyst.
“I was pleased,” Kearns said, “that we could hear from a diverse group of leadership who offered excellent teaching, challenging and inspirational preaching, and powerful musical worship
“The conference provided an opportunity to emphasize the Great Commission, promote networking and partnership among churches and ministry organizations, encouraged cross-generational and racial connection, while also speaking to tangible ‘community transformation’ subjects like orphan care, hospitality, faith in the public square, authentic community, and more.
“I truly believe there was something for everyone who attended while the overarching emphasis was placed squarely on Jesus and His calling for all His followers to live as His ambassadors in every domain of life.”
Speakers at the conference included Robert Smith, who holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School, where he teaches Christian preaching; James Merritt, host of “Touching Lives,” former SBC president, author, and current senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga.; Linda Cooper, WMU national president; James Choung, vice president of Strategy & Innovation — overseeing evangelism, discipleship, planting, growth, missions, multiethnic initiatives, ministry in digital spaces and campus engagement — at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA; Adam Thomason, speaker, entrepreneur, and global advocate for peace and reconciliation in Christ; Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, Fla.; Mark Tolbert, professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Caskey Center for Church Excellence director; James Ogan, president, Fellowship of Missouri Baptist Evangelists; Bill Hull, founder of the Bonhoeffer Project, writer, teacher, and discipleship evangelist; and Michael War, founder of Public Square LLC.
“I was very convicted, encouraged and challenged to not be a half-hearted follower of Jesus,” Teri Broeker, a member of Durham Baptist Church, Durham, told The Pathway.
“I see the changes need in our churches in how we lead our church life,” said Broeker, who is also Missouri WMU preschool, children and student missions consultant. “We are encouraged to be honest with the church. I want our church to be the kind of place where the people can come to the church with hurts, addictions and problems and that we will show them grace, love and support.”
Pastor Kevin Farr of First Baptist Steelville said that he appreciated speaker Bill Hull’s discussion of the Bonhoeffer Project – a disciple-making initiative being implemented across the state by the MBC’s Making Disciples group.
“There is a need for intentionality in the church about making disciples,” Farr said. “We can’t assume that disciplemaking is occurring just because we gather people.”
Fred Barker, pastor of First Baptist, Mountain Grove, said he was encouraged by Robert Smith’s insistence that Christians don’t need to worry about the results of ministry, but only about their faithfulness in sharing the gospel.
“Dr. Smith said, ‘We don’t transform communities—God does that.’ And that makes me think of Ephesians 1 and 2 and the power of the Gospel,” Barker said. “God transforms our lives. We don’t, but He does.”
(This article includes reporting by Pathway freelance writer Richard Nations.)