Pastors pray and prepare to “Win Georgia”


Pastors pray together at Salem Baptist Church in McDonough on Sept. 14 in preparation for the 2017 Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting, to be held Nov. 12-14 at North Metro First Baptist Church in Lawrenceville. Three more such prayer luncheons will be held prior to the annual meeting. GERALD HARRIS/Index

MCDONOUGHSalem Baptist Church and Pastor Rick Statham hosted a pastors’ prayer luncheon on Thursday, September 14 to promote prayer, fellowship, and the 2017 Georgia Baptist Convention theme “Win Georgia.”

Thomas Hammond, GBC president, declared, “Our reality is our responsibility. We have people coming to Georgia from all over the world; and the truth is that the people coming to America are more open to the Gospel than those who are born here.

“Last year our GBC theme was ‘Unite Georgia’ and we had pastors meeting for luncheons like this all over the state. We learned there is nothing like pastors fellowshipping together. This year our theme is ‘Win Georgia’ and our desire is to see our churches become more passionate about reaching the lost in their communities."

A nation in need

Thomas Hammond

“Our nation is in chaos in many ways and in desperate need of revival," Hammond explained. "Some may think we have drifted too far away from God for Him to send a revival upon our land. Jonah thought Nineveh was too far gone to experience revival, but his book of prophecy tells us that wicked Nineveh experienced a mighty move of God upon their city.”

Hammond urged pastors to pray for revival and quoted the English revivalist Leonard Ravenhill, who said, “No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters.

"Failing here, we fail everywhere.”

A plea to reach youth

Rick Statham, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, welcomes pastors. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Pastors joined Hammond and host pastor Rick Statham to lead the men gathered to pray for each other, their churches, and the nation. After a refreshing and concentrated period of prayer, Dr. J. Robert White was introduced to address the pastors.

White made a plaintive appeal for those present to ask God to give them a burden for our children. He asked those to stand who were saved prior to age 19 and at least 90 percent of those in attendance stood. He then explained, “We are no longer successfully reaching our youth. The average Georgia Baptist church baptized one teenager last year and that is unacceptable.

“We were baptizing more people in the 60s and 70s than we are now. Today, there are more people to baptize. We have more resources, better buildings, more money, more tools for outreach, but we are reporting fewer baptisms.”

Plan with purpose

"The average Georgia Baptist church baptized one teenager last year and that is unacceptable," Executive Director J. Robert White pointed out to the crowd, urging a renewed focus on reaching students. GERALD HARRIS/Index

Steve Parr, Georgia Baptist Mission Board vice president for Staff Coordination and Development, has become the team leader for reaching the next generation and urged every pastor and church representative to become intentional about reaching older children and teenagers.

Parr contrasted churches that use Vacation Bible Schools, youth encampments, and special events as tools for evangelism and the churches that do not. He further admonished the pastors to plan their students’ events with a purpose to evangelize those who are without Christ.

Additional luncheons are being planned for pastors across Georgia this year. President Hammond and the GBC vice presidents will be hosting these meetings. The following luncheons have been already been confirmed.

Annual Meeting, McDonough, prayer, ReachingNextGen, students, Thomas Hammond, Win Georgia