Pastors and ministers representing various ministries from across Arkansas participated in a commissioning service Tuesday evening at the 165th annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention Oct. 23 at Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro. Photo by Caleb Yarbrough
ABSC Annual Meeting Tuesday evening session beings with worship, ends with commissioning service
JONESBORO – The evening session of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Annual Meeting began with a call to worship, followed by a concert of worship by the Arkansas Master’Singers.
Greg Addison, associate executive director of the ABSC, shared a report on the status of the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.
According to Addison, this year’s offering was the largest was the largest in history.
The Dixie Jackson offering is more than an offering, said Addison, it continues the work of it’s namesake by providing funding for all the cooperative mission work that Arkansas Baptists do together across the state and beyond.
“Our work is not done,” said Addison.
Addison said that demographic studies show that in Arkansas, there are 500,000 children, 200,000 teenagers, 160,000 college and university students (including 64,000 international students) and 127 people groups (76 of which unreached people groups). In addition, 44 percent of Arkansas’ population is lost and in need of Jesus, he said.
“Thank you Arkansas Baptists for what you are doing, and in an anticipation of faith, for what we will continue to do in our home state of Arkansas,” said Addison.
Greg Sykes, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Russellville, and ABSC president, introduced J.D. “Sonny” Tucker, ABSC executive director, to give a message from the book of Acts.
“As a network of churches I think we are in an unusual place,” said Tucker. “We have a lot of energy and we have to expend that energy on something.”
Citing the numbers of lost people in Arkansas, Tucker said, “I think we have found where we need to expend that energy.”
Tucker said that there is great power in the last words of Christ before He ascended into heaven.
“I think the book of Acts is a blueprint, a model, a foundation and I think it’s ongoing,” said Tucker. “I think its (Acts) lays out a rawness, an intensity, a passion and a focus. Those folks had no money, no building, no seminaries and no organization. They had the gospel of Jesus, prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit and look at what they did?”
Tucker said that the biblical basis for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program is found in Acts 1:8.
“We are responsible for getting the gospel to our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth, right now. Not at some point in the future – right now,” said Tucker.
Is the Cooperative Program perfect, “No, there are too many people involved,” said to laughter and applause.
“Disciple-making evangelism is job one for us and every other job falls behind that,” said Tucker.
While it might be trendy to look down upon “numbers” within Southern Baptists, Tucker said that numbers are an attestation of what God is doing in our ministries and we should champion them.
However, Tucker cautioned against ministers either bragging about their church or ministry’s numbers or allowing themselves to be jealous of the ministerial success of others who have more numbers than they do.
“It ought not be about the biggest numbers. It ought to be about how many people you are able to serve,” said Tucker. “Love people. Serve people. Ask God for people to serve. Whatever numbers will come, let them come.”
Sometimes we let programs, building campaigns and other aspects of ministry distract us from the fact that God is our only source of power, said Tucker.
“God won’t share His glory with anyone,” he said.
Many American Christians have hearts that are hardened to preaching but “praying down the power of God,” can soften their hearts,” said Tucker.
At Pentecost God used the Galileans, a people that were “unschooled and ordinary,” to do His will, he said.
“You take somebody who doesn’t have a lot of education or a lot of intelligence, sometimes he uses them more,” said Tucker. “Beware of your pride.”
In the book of Acts, God shows us that all people “matter to God,” said Tucker. “You cannot violate the heart of Jesus and have the blessings of Jesus.”
When a church refuses to minister to all people, God’s presence leaves that church, said Tucker.
“What we really want to be is small group Bible studies for people we like and people like us,” said Tucker.
When pastors and ministers attempt to lead their church to reaching all people, instead of only some, God will sometime lead them through trials and tribulations and their people pushing back, Tucker said.
In Acts, leaders were raised up leaders from their local bodies, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today, we look to colleges, seminaries and other areas for our leaders, said Tucker.
“The Holy Spirit, if you ask Him, will show you people who are potential leaders,” he said.
Arkansas Baptists have stepped out on faith and are seeking to follow God, said Tucker, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you,” he said.
Following Tucker’s message, pastors and ministers representing various ministries from across Arkansas participated in a commissioning service.
The group was made up of ministers active in various outreach people-group emphases, including: Hispanics, African-Americans, international peoples, college students, children, teenagers and youth, victims of disasters (ministered to by Arkansas disaster relief), low-income, rural and urban, shared testimonies of their work ministering to all the many demographics of Arkansas.
After a time of sharing by the pastors and ministers serving in various contexts across the state,
Tucker asked all the various groups represented to spread out around the sanctuary and for those in attendance to pray for the pastors and ministers and for God to bless the work they are doing.
Grey Falanga, pastor of Walnut Street Baptist Church, Jonesboro, led a closing prayer.
Contact Caleb Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org.