Some prayed silently, some raised their hands and sang along quietly, but everyone worshipped. As the worship team from New Beginnings Fellowship, Trussville, played, those at the Alabama Church Planters Network Dinner praised the Lord for what He is doing in their communities.
Held Nov. 11 at Samford University in Birmingham, the Alabama Church Planters Network Dinner provided a time of encouragement and inspiration for church planters and their wives.
The dinner was the first of many events hosted in conjunction with the 2018 Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 13–14 at First Baptist Church, Trussville.
Guest speaker Kenny Grant, pastor of Calvary Baptist Temple, Savannah, Georgia, and a planter of churches in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, preached from Matthew 25. He used the parable of the talents, where a master entrusts his property to his servants, to encourage church planters to embrace what God has given them individually and not compare themselves to others.
Watch and work, Grant said.
“We must be working with what the Lord has given to us,” he said. “Every single thing we have is given to us by God not to own it but to manage it for His honor and glory. We own absolutely nothing.
“What we’ve been given is not important. What’s important is what we do with what God has given, since everyone is created differently with unique abilities and opportunities,” Grant said.
He spoke on the abilities, possibilities, responsibilities and accountability that come with what God has gifted each of His children.
“God has given each one of us abilities,” Grant said, which He “issues out according to His sovereign plan.”
And because of that there should be no complaining, no competing and no comparing, he said. “Let’s just worship and honor the Lord.”
Surrender to God
Grant used Fanny Crosby as an example, sharing that though she was blind from a young age God used her to write hundreds of hymns that would continue to touch people’s lives for centuries.
“The possibilities are endless when what we have is surrendered to God,” he said.
Each person is responsible for the gifts God has given them, he said. “We must realize what we’ve been given, then utilize it and maximize it for God’s glory,” Grant said.
Just like the servants had to explain to their master how they handled what he gave them, everyone will be held accountable for what he or she did with what God gave them. “You are going to give an account of the privilege of ministry that He’s given you,” Grant said.
The event also included separate breakout sessions for the pastors and the pastors’ wives.
Grant stressed the importance of the call of God to the pastors and planters. “It is an upward call,” he said. “God didn’t call us to greatness. He called us to Himself.”
Thais Jones, wife of Terrence Jones, pastor of Strong Tower at Washington Park, Montgomery, spoke to the pastors’ wives out of John 11 on the importance of being vulnerable.
God is safe, she said. “Others might hurt us but we know that we are 100 percent loved. He is doing something bigger than us.”
And that’s why pastors’ wives must be vulnerable in their churches — to show that God perfects His power through our struggles — “His grace is sufficient,” she said, referencing 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Lamar Duke, church planting strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, was excited to host the event. “God is doing amazing things in Alabama,” he said.