Greatest gospel force on planet is in the pews, Scott Sullivan tells Georgia Baptist lay leaders


MOULTRIE, Ga. — Scott Sullivan challenged church leaders Saturday to develop strategies to grow strong disciples who can unleash the power of the gospel in their communities and around the world.

“My opinion is that the greatest gospel force on the planet is not in the pulpits; it’s in the pews,” said Sullivan, the discipleship catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board who preached in the first of a series of regional SPARK conferences scheduled across the state over the next month. “If we don’t equip and empower the people of God to be disciples who make disciples, we will never accomplish our mission.”

Sullivan said it’s crucial that churches produce disciples who never get comfortable watching lost people die and go to hell but who will go to great lengths to introduce them to Jesus.

“The critical question every church leader must answer is this: Do we have an intentional disciple-making plan and is it working?”

The Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s annual SPARK conferences will involve more than 40 speakers who will share insights intended to show churches how they can grow disciples and reach their communities for Christ.

Among the Mission Board’s most popular events, SPARK drew more than 1,600 attendees to regional sites around the state last year.

In the SPARK conferences, Georgia Baptist lay leaders receive training in key areas, including evangelism and discipleship, church growth, public relations, church security, children and student ministries, missions, men, church administration, and more.

Keynote speakers at upcoming conference sites include Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond Jr., former Lifeway Christian Resources President Thom S. Rainer, and Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow. Others from the state Mission Board and beyond will lead breakout sessions on various areas of ministry.

The conferences are intended to help churches develop strategies to bring people to Christ and to teach them to bring others to Christ.

Sullivan warned that churches without a strategy for making disciples will miss the mark.

“If you don’t have a target that you’re focused on, every person and every organization will wander,” he said. “You have to have a plan.”

It's not too late to register for the upcoming conferences. The locations and registration links are:

Northwest Region

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Ellijay on August 13.

West Central Region

Roopville Road Baptist Church in Roopville on August 19.

Northeast Region

Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens on August 26.

East Central Region

First Baptist Church in Sandersville on August 27.

Southeast Region

First Baptist Church in Statesboro on September 16.