Alabama Baptists gathered for their first-ever disciple-making conference April 19–20 at Fultondale First Baptist Church, and according to Scott Kindig, the conference was a call for an “all skate.”
Kindig — lead navigator for Future Church Company and one of several featured speakers at the conference — referred back to his teenage years at the roller-skating rink when an “all skate” meant everyone should get out there and participate, regardless of age or ability level.
“How are we going to mobilize everybody? How do we get to where discipleship is the lifestyle of our people, not the responsibility of a staff? Ministry is not limited to people who have ‘Rev.’ in front of their names,” Kindig said. “This isn’t just for trained, ordained experts — this is the lifestyle of every believer on the planet.”
Small and interactive
That was the core idea of the Alabama Discipleship Conference — to equip and encourage pastors to lead churches where every member is a disciple maker, not just a churchgoer.
The conference — originally planned for April 2020 but postponed because of COVID-19 — was designed to be small and interactive and send pastors away with steps they could put to use right away, according to Mark Gainey, pastor of Fultondale First and part of the lead team for Disciple-Making Ministries of Alabama.
In-person attendance was limited to 100, with others joining online.
The schedule also featured panel discussions and roundtable gatherings where the speakers shared practical tips.
State Board partner
The conference, sponsored by Disciple-Making Ministries of Alabama in partnership with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, is expected to be an annual event with next year’s location to be announced closer to time.
Gainey said they chose Fultondale First as the location this year because it’s not a big, flashy venue — and he hoped that communicated any church can be a disciple-making church.
“It’s not about having the best, it’s about making disciples,” he told those present at the event. “You can do it.”
During one of the panel discussions, Kindig said shifting the culture of a church to a disciple-making church doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a “long walk in the same direction.”
“Don’t try to quick-fix a solution for making disciples; just start somewhere,” he said.
Ken Adams — lead pastor of Crossroads Church in Newnan, Georgia, and founder and director of Impact Disciples — encouraged pastors to change the culture of their churches by seeing disciple making not as an add-on but as “all we do.”
“Your job is supposed to point everybody in the right direction but also lead by living it,” he said.
Gainey seconded that sentiment during a panel discussion with Andy Frazier, Robert Mullins and other members of the Disciple-Making Ministries of Alabama team.
“Disciple making is not another program or ministry add-on, it’s life,” Gainey said.
“It has to be a rhythm of your life.”
During the conference, panelists and speakers talked candidly about the struggles and joys of personal disciple making and leading churches to be disciple-making churches.
Joël Malm — author of “Vision Map,” “Fully You” and “Love Slows Down” and founder and director of Summit Ministries — encouraged pastors to press on even when they’re discouraged.
“Sometimes we have these expectations … and think this is how it’s supposed to work, and when things don’t look the way we thought they were supposed to, we get disappointed, frustrated and
angry,” he said.
“Stay in faith that God is working.”
The goal is to make disciples the way Jesus did — in one-on-one relationships — then multiply those relationships, Adams said. Seeing a harvest of disciple-making disciples is only going to happen when pastors are intentional to “lead the church the way Jesus wants it led,” he said.
Robert Coleman, author of “Master Plan of Evangelism,” also spoke during the conference, and Daniel Im, author of “No Silver Bullets” and senior associate pastor at Beulah Alliance Church, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, led an early bird session.
For more information, visit aldiscipleshipconference.com.