Willie McLaurin can’t shake the memory of a day when he got on a plane for a short flight home after preaching somewhere. He sat down in a window seat, popped in his headphones and prayed for a few minutes of quiet.
And then he realized that the man headed to sit beside him had the “spiritual gift of conversation.”
“I dug in deeper, and this guy began talking to the guy who was in the aisle seat,” McLaurin, who serves as interim president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, told those present at the State Evangelism Conference on Jan. 29. “And I said, ‘God, you’ve answered my prayer.’”
Can’t take a day off
The man never stopped talking to the person on the other side of him, and McLaurin was thankful. But after they landed, McLaurin said the man turned to him and said, “I see you didn’t feel like having any conversation today.”
In that moment, McLaurin felt the Holy Spirit say to him that he had to be consistent — he couldn’t take a day off from being a disciple of Jesus.
In his message to the crowd gathered for the conference at Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham, McLaurin said consistency is one of the values a church needs to be a Great Commission church.
“How many people,” he asked, “has the Lord Jesus Christ placed right beside you, but because you were not consistent at sharing your faith, you missed an opportunity to share the Good News? Are you willing to lay your life on the line and testify to the goodness of the Lord?”
‘Every believer called’
Preaching mainly from Matthew 28:18-20, McLaurin said followers of Christ must be committed to sharing their faith verbally.
“Every believer is called and commissioned to share the gospel with a lost world,” he said.
McLaurin said Christ’s followers must also be concerned for the lost.
“I believe one of the reasons we’re not sharing the gospel is because we’ve lost our genuine concern,” he said. “We need to see other people through the eyes of the Savior.”
He said when it comes to evangelism, disciples of Jesus are called to be verbal witnesses — but they are also to rely on the work of the Holy Spirit to change lives. He’s the one who does the real work, McLaurin said. “The Lord has already done it all; our job is just to open our mouths.”
McLaurin was one of five speakers who challenged those who attended the Jan. 29–30 conference in person and online.
Daniel Wilson, director of the office of evangelism for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said his team’s prayer in putting the event together “was that this would be a very sweet-spirited conference where people would leave refreshed in their ministries.”
“We wanted every person to go home remembering they are not alone but are part of a loving and caring family called Alabama Baptists,” Wilson said. “I feel like God honored our prayers and enabled us to have a conference that inspired and celebrated our people in their evangelistic efforts.”
The conference kicked off with intercultural worship led by David Inestroza, who develops and resources Hispanic worship leaders in Alabama. Praise and worship was also provided throughout the event by the Lakeside Baptist choir and orchestra, led by Chris Diffey, minister of music and worship.
‘Jesus is worth our everything’
Ben Stubblefield, pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, said followers of Jesus should spend their lives “pleading with folks that Jesus is worth our everything.”
Preaching from Hebrews 8:6-13, Stubblefield said believers are inviting people into a holy inclination — “a radically new kind of existence” of living with a totally changed heart.
They are also inviting people into a “happy relationship” that is “unalterably permanent and altogether intimate,” he said.
The invitation also includes a “holy knowledge” of the living God — not just a knowledge of religious things — and a “whole forgiveness” of sins, Stubblefield said. Once believers have tasted that themselves, they can’t do anything but follow Him wholeheartedly and share Him with others.
“Do you believe that Christ is everything? You and I have one life to live, and we’re not going to waste it on foolish things,” he said. “I am going to spend my life on Jesus because He’s better than anything and worth our everything.”
Conference continues today (Jan. 30)
The State Evangelism Conference kicked off Jan. 29 with intercultural worship led by David Inestroza, who develops and resources Hispanic worship leaders in Alabama. Praise and worship was also provided by the Lakeside Baptist choir and orchestra, led by Chris Diffey, minister of music and worship.
The conference starts again this morning (Monday, Jan. 30) at 8:30. To see a schedule, visit https://evangelizeal.org/state-evangelism-conferences.
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