Sonny Tucker is the leader of the Evangelism and Church Growth Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his team provided a first class conference for Arkansas pastors and church leaders this week at First Baptist Church in Sherwood. The preaching, teaching, and music were all very good. I always come home feeling a mixture of excitement, encouragement, conviction, and disappointment. Let me explain what I mean.
Some of the best speakers across the Southern Baptist Convention descend upon central Arkansas for these two days. As I listen to the talk about sharing the gospel and growing a church, I can’t help but get excited! Any pastor would want to do that; we all want to see our churches effectively reaching out and winning people to Christ.
One message after another brought encouraging words intended to inspire and equip us to get going. Some messages focus on the theological reasons for sharing our faith. Others provide practical ways to put the ideas into practice. I walked away from the conference knowing that I can lead my church to fulfill the Great Commission.
Other messages are directed at me and my sin and my lack of commitment or involvement. Those sermons are hard to hear but someone who wants to please the Lord, win others to Christ, and lead a church to do the same must get serious about his own commitment. My prayer, my study, and my practice can all stand a lift. I know that God’s love can transform me into the vessel that is useful to him.
Disappointment always seems to be part of the emotional package I take home from these conferences. I am disappointed that I have not done a better job leading my church to reach out and grow. I’m disappointed that I stand back from opportunities to share Christ. I’m disappointed because my church doesn’t compare favorably with some others in our state.
The first three emotions are fine and appropriate. The last one has no place in effective living and ministry. Disappointment will drag me down, distract my attention, and defeat my purposes before I ever get started. So I’m letting that one go. Rather than being disappointed by what I heard, I will be motivated by the messages and statistics that indicate a shortcoming in my life and my church. With motivation now at the helm, God can use the excitement, encouragement, and conviction to help me mature as a pastor, preacher, leader, and Christian.