Tony Evans will be one of of the keynote preachers at this year’s SPARK conference sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
By Roger Alford
DULUTH, Ga. – The popularity of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s SPARK conference has spread far beyond the state line, drawing participants from 45 other states and 18 countries as far away as Japan, Australia, and Kenya.
The goal of this year’s event, which premieres on August 12, is to “spark” an intense fire among Southern Baptists for making and training disciples in local communities, across the U.S, and around the world.
The SPARK conference last year drew more than 6,500 participants at more than 200 hosting sites. Scott Sullivan, discipleship catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said he’s expecting even larger crowds this year.
“The genius of SPARK is the unique ability of local church leaders or associational missions strategists to host local in-person events and use our content to provide quality training and encouragement for pastors, bi-vocational leaders and lay leaders, free of charge,” Sullivan said. “The SPARK conference is changing the way denominational leaders view and provide training to professional and lay leaders in churches.”
The COVID-19 pandemic of the past year forced Sullivan to rethink discipleship training. Pulling Georgia Baptists together in a statewide meeting for the training, as had been the standard practice, just wasn’t a possibility last summer with coronavirus still spreading rapidly. So, he developed the current SPARK model of multiple sites that are joined remotely.
The simulcast event pulls together dozens of major Southern Baptist personalities for a time of inspirational preaching and insightful teaching.
At this year’s SPARK premiere, keynote speakers will include Tony Evans, senior pastor of the 9,500-member Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas; Ben Mandrell, president and chief executive officer of LifeWay Christian Resources; Charles Lowery, president and chief executive officer of Lowery Institute for Excellence; and David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a leading research and communications company.
“We have confirmed Mark Hall and Casting Crowns for 2021 SPARK to welcome attendees,” Sullivan said. “Registration is really beginning to pick up at this point. We have SPARK hosting sites developing from around the world.”
Eric Eggers, minister for adult education and evangelism ministries at North Metro Baptist Church in Atlanta, said he’s impressed with the great line up of speakers, but especially appreciative that their presentations are recorded and available on the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s website so that people can listen to them at their convenience.
“What a huge resource to be able to go back later and relisten to all the content,” he said.
Eggers said people who wouldn’t be able to travel to a major in-person conference have full access to the SPARK content whenever it’s most convenient for them. He said he plans to use SPARK content for training over a series of Wednesday nights.
“My prayer will be that our leaders are encouraged and equipped with insights they have gained from top-shelf leaders,” Eggers said. “In return, I believe they will be stronger and more effective leaders in helping make fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”
To register, go to www.thesparkconference.com.