Georgia Baptist Convention President Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta, addresses the GBC Executive Committee Sept. 19 in Duluth. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
VALDOSTA — Georgia Baptist Convention President Robby Foster wants this year’s annual meeting, held Nov. 11-12 at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, to be much more than a meeting.
“I want to share with our churches, pastors, and leaders that now is the time to impact our state with the Gospel,” he expressed recently over Sunday lunch at Longhorn’s Steakhouse in Valdosta.
The annual meeting theme, “Impact,” is based on Acts 17:6 when a mob – searching for Paul and Silas – attacks the house of a member of the early church named Jason
“And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…’”
The dominant culture could no longer tolerate the Gospel being preached by Christians of the day, said Foster.
“These were men who turned the world upside down. But it wasn’t said by those men. It was being said by the world. That’s an impact when the culture is the one saying it.”
Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta and completing his first term as president, is expected to be re-elected for a second term unopposed, as is customary.
“At the annual meeting I want to focus on how we can impact the culture with the Gospel. That’s not going to be done with just a few churches, though. It’s going to require all 3,600 Georgia Baptist churches working together. Through that I want to emphasize baptisms, student ministries, and churches being what God has called them to be.”
Johnny Hunt among session leaders
Breakout sessions, heretofore not associated with the annual meeting, will be a part of Tuesday’s schedule. “Chick-fil-A is going to cater lunch that day through a gift by the North American Mission Board,” Foster said.
Scheduling of the sessions was considered in order to not interfere with conducting Convention business. Starting at noon, pastors can stay during lunch and hear speakers such as NAMB Senior Vice President for Evangelism and Leadership Johnny Hunt and Bethlehem Church Pastor Jason Britt lead sessions on topics including church revitalization, church planting, encouragement, and reaching the culture. “There will be a brochure coming out soon with more details,” Foster added.
Sunday night’s Inspirational Rally will begin at 6 p.m. with several musical guests joining a mass choir along with baptisms. Evangelist Jon Reed will bring the message. The Georgia Baptist Preaching Conference will take place Monday afternoon, starting at 1 p.m. Foster will call Monday evening’s opening session of the annual meeting to order at 6 p.m.
The Valdosta pastor reasserted that for Georgia Baptists to, indeed, make an impact in the culture it will require a collective effort.
“We’re never going to be stronger until we’re together and unified. We’re Georgia Baptist churches, and Georgia Baptists have to find the reasons to come together over the Gospel. It is time for us to put aside some of these differences and hear our vision, our passion,” he stated.
“We care about pastors, about churches, about what’s happening in their community. And we know this: there’s no way Georgia Baptists can be the Georgia Baptists we need to be without the buy-in of all churches. We need every church, not just the big or the small. Every. Single. Church. You’re needed.”
Scott Barkley serves as editor of The Christian Index.