January 28, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – More than 1,000 Missouri Baptists received their marching orders at the 2003 Missouri Baptist Convention Evangelism Conference – …go win the lost at any cost."
Fred Luter, pastor of the 8,000-member Franklin Road Baptist Church in New Orleans, La., told the Missourians that God is counting on them.
"Come on brothers and sisters," Luter proclaimed. "Let’s go out while the harvest is ripe. Come on Missouri, let’s heed the Master’s call. They’re dying out there and need to know Jesus is the way.
Breaking into the chorus of Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves, the vibrant black pastor said, "Jesus saves, Jesus saves…He saves from the guttermost – and that was me – to the utmost. Let’s go out and win the lost at any cost."
Luter was one of three out-of-state speakers at the conference, hosted by Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City. Also delivering messages were Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Las Vegas, Nev., and Jerry Johnston, pastor of First Family Church, Shawnee, Ks.
Registrants gave high marks to the 2003 conference, many rating it "excellent" on their conference survey forms.
Ernie Buscher, pastor of Aurora Springs Baptist Church, Eldon, liked the conference so much that he suggested stretching it from two days to three days next year. He added that the MBC should "regain Windermere" and have the conference there next year.
Gary Urich, pastor of Southern Hills Baptist Church, Bolivar, said the 2003 Evangelism Conference was "the best he had ever attended in Missouri."
Herb Baker, pastor of Osage Hills Baptist Church, Osage Beach, described the preaching as "passionate" and complimented the teaching presented by MBC Executive Director David Clippard on how to conduct an invitation.
Ed Plants of Geyer Road Baptist Church, Kirkwood, said the conference was "very well done. "Excellent speakers and music," Plants said.
The conference theme was "Praying, Sowing and Reaping," and each preacher hit hard on one aspect of the theme.
Randy Messer, pastor of First Baptist Church, Oak Grove, told the conference that God already has answers for all of our questions.
"He’s already in the midst of redeeming a lost world to himself," Messer said. "But God is patiently waiting for us to get swept up in what He is doing. But we’ll never get swept up until we hear what His work orders are," Messer said, pointing to the period Moses spent waiting on his marching orders from God.
"Brothers and sisters in Christ in this great state of Missouri, let’s not be playing games anymore. Let’s go into the place where the almighty is and get our marching orders. And when we do that, He’ll shove us out the door to win another and another and another person to the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Wouldn’t it be something if revival started in in this country, started at the central point of the midwest and moved to the east coast and west coast because people here are serious in their prayer closets."
Pitman told about going to Las Vegas to start a Southern Baptist church, how he bathed the effort in prayer and how God responded. Pitman’s first illustration involved baseball. He was helping a friend, Mark, coach the little league team. When the pastor said something to Mark about his bad language, Pitman said the other dad became irate, cursing even more. Pitman, who had been trying to build a relationship with Mark, thought all was lost.
But God had other plans.
Pitman’s daughter later called Mark’s daughter and invited them to Eastern service at Hope Baptist. And to Pitman’s amazement, they came.
"All I could think was that Mark would think I was a fool, but I got up and preached the Gospel of th Lord Jesus Christ," Pitman explained. "Before we even started singing the invitation, Mark jumped up out of his seat and came running down the aisle. He threw his arms around my neck, and I was scared to death."
Laughter echoed throughout the Concord Baptist auditorium as Pitman finished the story.
"I asked him if he wanted to give his life to Jesus, and Mark said, ‘Hell, yes," Pitman said.
Preaching from 1 Timothy, Pitman pointed out that God has a strategic plan, that He has made provision for that plan and that he has a process.
"And here is the process," Pitman said, quoting the Bible: "I urge … prayers on behalf of all men. We need to recognize that God wants all men to be saved, but let’s get first things first. Let’s pray," Pitman added.
Luter concentrated on the sowing aspect of evangelism, titling his sermon "The Maser’s Call for Laborers."
"Imagine a fish that couldn’t swim, a bird that couldn’t fly, a rabbit that couldn’t hop, a cat that could not meow, a lion that could not roar, a duck that could not quack, …" Luter began. "All these creatures do what God made them to do. I’ve never heard a duck say moooo. And I’ve never heard a cow saying quack, quack, quack.
"Mankind is the only part of creation that does not do what God created us to do. And just think of the agony God feels when we do not do what he made us to do," Luter continued.
"The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. People need the Lord, but they won’t know unless we tell them," Luter proclaimed, holding his Bible high. "Let’s make the main thing the main thing and stop majoring in minors … Soul winning is not an option, it’s not just for the pastor. It’s for every born again believer, every member of every church.
Several conference speakers concentrated on the reaping aspect of evangelism.
David Clippard, MBC executive director, looked back to his days as a student at the University of Missouri. Living with his wife, Suzanne, in a small trailer, a violent storm hit the area. Clippard said he told his terrified wife that they would "go home to be with Jesus" if they were killed.
The director said he was surprised to hear his wife’s response. "How do you know that?" she said. At the time, Clippard said he didn’t know how to lead another person to Christ, but a job took the Clippards to Chicago where his wife found Christ during a revival service at a small Baptist church. Clippard said Missouri Baptists should heed Christ’s admonition to be "fishers of men."
"If you’re not fishing for men, you need to ask yourself if you’re a follower of Christ," Clippard said. "That’s what he called us to do. He wasnts us to be disciples without debate. Our churches baptized 13,621 people last year, and I’ll bet we had that many Baptist funerals last year if we add them up. I don’t know about you, but that bothers me."
Clippard said the problem in many Baptist churches is that the members aren’t fishing for other men and woman, and the result is "they start taking it out on each other."
Johnston, describing himself as a "freak and a druggie" during his growing up years, told of his conversion experience during a summer camp at Windermere. Johnston said he returned to the Kansas City area and began preaching Christ to his family and friends. "We live in a lost world … everything is changing. It’s high time for us to quit playing games, playing preacher, playing like we care," Johnston said.