Joel Carwile, pastor of First Baptist Church Athens, said it can be easy to lose the next generation — all it takes is not doing the next right thing.
He pointed to Israel, the “beloved chosen people” of God, and how after being delivered from Egypt and given the promised land, they still fell away from God one generation after Joshua.
Carwile, who gave the convention sermon during the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, said he thinks often about his children and wonders what their generation will be taught.
‘Know the Lord’
“I’m just praying that here in America, here in Alabama, that next generation will know the Lord because you and I were faithful in the present,” he said. “I believe we all should have great dreams and visions for the generations to come. But … in just one generation, those people who came after Joshua did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel.”
The era that came next — Judges — was a fiasco, Carwile said. And after that, the people of Israel demanded that they wanted a king rather than to be ruled by God alone. They wanted to be like the kingdoms around them.
“Israel wanted to be like everybody else,” Carwile said. “I pray that Alabama Baptists don’t want to be like everybody else.
“I pray that as we move forward,” he noted, “we want to be unique, we want to be distinct and follow Christ in a culture that doesn’t.”
He said he hopes that is the focus of Alabama Baptist churches and institutions of higher learning.
“So I’m asking us as Alabama Baptists, that as we move forward for the next 200 years, that we don’t want another king — we want King Jesus,” Carwile said. “And if we stay focused on Him, He will continue to pour out His blessings upon our state, upon our convention, upon our associations and upon our local churches.”
He challenged those present to learn from the mistakes of the past — like the Israelites who didn’t pass down their faith to the ones who came after them.
‘Next right step’
“We are 199 years strong as a convention,” Carwile said. “So what will we do? What will be our next right step?”
He said people are going to reach the next generation — why shouldn’t it be Alabama Baptists?
“Are you thinking of the future, to whom you will hand the baton?” he asked. “If we want a glorious future, serving the purpose of God in our own generation is a worthy goal.”