Breakout sessions train attendees for greater ministry
    November 18 2014 by BR staff

    On Nov. 11 during the annual meeting, 22 breakout sessions were offered for N.C. Baptists to learn from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) staff. These sessions helped attendees use ordinary things and everyday experiences to build relationships with lost people to point them to Christ.

    Knowing Your Mission Field

    During one session, Michael Sowers, BSC strategy coordinator for the Triad area, shared five questions with church leaders to help them begin identifying the lost people in their communities and develop a strategy to engage them.
    The questions were:

    • Who are the people?

    • What motivates people?

    • When are they available?

    • Where are people available?

    • How am I going to engage them?

    Sowers suggested drawing a map of the community as one works through these questions, writing down people’s names and marking the places where people live, work and play. Answering the questions should naturally lead to the formulation of a strategy for reaching the lost.
    “Jesus said His mission was to seek and to save the lost,” Sowers said. “That’s what this is all about.”

    Step-by-Step Disciple-Making

    Brian Upshaw, disciple-making team leader with the BSC, shared a step-by-step process with pastors and church leaders to help them lead people from salvation to Christian maturity.
    There’s no one-size-fits-all method of making disciples, but Christ’s life reveals several examples that are applicable to local church ministry when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission.
    The process is based on patterns of Christ’s life and ministry found in Mark 9-13 where we see Jesus relating with the masses, the 12 disciples and a small group of three in Peter, James and John.


    BR photo by Michael McEwen
    Michael Sowers, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) strategy coordinator for the Triad area led two breakout sessions Nov. 11 during the BSC annual meeting.

    “The smaller the circle, the more intimate the relationship,” Upshaw said.
    Jesus’ approach can be applied to local churches, using ministry structures already in place, Upshaw said. 


    Preaching is like Jesus’ ministry to the masses, while Sunday School and small group Bible studies are akin to Jesus’ time spent with the disciples.
    Most churches fall short in taking the next step of making discipleship personal, intentional and relational, Upshaw said. He encouraged church leaders to invite two or three other people to commit to spending a season of time studying the Bible together as a way to get started in relational discipleship.
    “If we are following Christ, being changed by Christ on mission for Christ in every relationship we have, that’s how you build a disciple-making culture,” Upshaw said. “And that’s how a process of discipleship emerges.”

    The Church’s Mission Heart

    Patrick Fuller, the strategy coordinator for the Metro Charlotte area, said the first step for a church to put together a missions game plan is to refocus its relationship with Christ.
    “All of our churches are in a different place, but I’m convinced that almost all of our churches break the heart of God,” Fuller said.
    “Hardly any of us are where we need to be. What we have discovered is God’s plan for a church to have a missions-driven heart is not what we’ve done. If we are going to be the church God wants us to be, we must refocus.”
    He strongly encouraged churches to select a specific people group in the community to target for ministry. After reaching out locally, opportunities would expand by region, state, national and global.
    “We can’t turn outward until we first come inward to the Holy Spirit and realize who we are and what God wants for us,” Fuller continued. “When each of us falls in love with that group of people and grabs a mission heart for that group, the mission opportunities are endless.”

    The Church Renewal Journey

    Bob Foy is a church renewal consultant for the BSC and North American Mission Board missionary, but there was a time in his life when church work was a responsibility and not a passion.
    “Really, honestly, I think I was doing church as hard as I could do church,” Foy admitted. “I was awakened to a totally new Christian life, awakened to the fact I love God. How do I show that? I’m not a singer. I’m not a teacher. I was an electrician.”
    He cited an alarming statistic that 800-1,000 churches close their doors every year. A primary reason for that, Foy continued, might very well be that lay people don’t fully recognize or understand their own gifts for ministry. In short, ministry is not just the pastor’s job.
    “My favorite verse in the Bible is 1 Peter 4:10 and 11,” Foy said. “It says God has given us a vast variety of gifts to build up and edify the body, and then it says, ‘Are you called to speak?’
    “I thought for years and years that meant pastors. No. If you have the hope of Jesus Christ in your heart, you’re called to give testimony. The scripture says, ‘Speak as though God is speaking through you.’ Can the layperson do that? Yes.”
    Foy then outlined a free Church Renewal Program that is funded by the Cooperative Program, which he’s seen have truly amazing success. The program includes five weekends for lay renewal; lay ministry; marketplace evangelism; prayer; and an Acts 1:8 challenge.

    No campus left

    Jonathan Yarboro, interim team leader and consultant for collegiate partnerships of the BSC, addressed how churches can mobilize missionaries on every campus in the state until there is “no campus left” without a gospel presence.
    Yarboro said, “I hear a lot of churches ask, ‘How do you keep college students from walking out the doors and leaving churches?’ I think when we have a defensive posture like that, … I think we begin losing the battle when we ask that question.
    “I think you have to get in front of that and begin asking, ‘How do we reach more college students?’”
    A few attendees asked questions about different models of ministry concerning residential university settings versus non-residential community college settings.
    Yarboro said, “There are 1.2 million college students in North Carolina. 840,000 of those are in community colleges. We’ve put all our energy historically into a group that is 240,000 strong. … So, how you go about reaching community college students is very different from how you go about reaching the others.”
    Community college students are primarily commuters, said Yarboro. If churches want to build relationships and share the gospel with these students, they first have to create a social life on a campus full of commuters.
    He said, “You have two years maximum to be able to develop a social construct and to be able to share the gospel with them, and also to be able to connect them to a local church.”
    For churches that struggle with low-attendance in their college ministries, Yarboro said, “Cast a vision for what you want these students to be: that they are going to be on mission, and that you’re going to take campuses in the name of Jesus.”

    North America Mission Opportunities

    Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for church planting and missions partnerships, led the North America Mission Opportunities breakout session.
    Encouraging churches to commit for three years instead of just one is “best for them,” Register said. The first year churches require a lot of the church planter; the second year, a lot less but still need help. By the third year, churches are able to be fairly independent because they have learned the area and have familiarized themselves with the church’s needs. Participants heard from representatives from Send Boston, Send New York and Send Toronto, along with a representative from Metropolitan New York Baptist Association.
    There are many needs in each of the cities, and mission trips can be planned to fit each of the church’s groups.
    Contact Chuck Register at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5532, or

    Passion, Purity and Porn

    “Your sexual purity is essential to your walk with God,” said Eddie Thompson, BSC consultant for family evangelism and discipleship.
    Immorality is the “plague of our day,” he said to participants in the session on Passion, Purity and Porn.
    “Sexual purity begins in the mind and not the body,” Thompson said.
    He shared statistics of porn use and growth as well as tips to help church leaders and members with temptations.
    Helping people know their identity in Christ helps them stay focused on God’s purpose. Thompson’s slides and statistics are available for people to use or he can come to the church or association.
    Contact (800) 395-5102, ext. 5644, or

    11/18/2014 10:34:47 AM by BR staff | with 0 comments
    Filed under: annual meeting, breakout sessions, BSC

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