Pastors, church leaders challenged to ServeNC

“Get out of your seats and into the streets” was the challenge for pastors and church leaders Thursday night as Tom Beam, disaster relief coordinator from N.C. Baptists, addressed the Stanly-Montgomery Baptist Association’s Spring Conference, offering training and tips for ServeNC, the statewide service and evangelism push set for Aug. 3-10.

Roughly 70 people gathered in the family life center at Anderson Grove Baptist in Albemarle for fellowship, praise and training as churches prepare to go above-and-beyond to meet the needs of their neighbors.

Dr. Andy Prince, associational mission strategist, urged pastors to take advantage of SMBA resources, including mission grants and help from fellow pastors Brandon King and Mike Greene, who are ServeNC county coordinators. King is pastor of First Baptist in New London. Greene pastors Cornerstone in Biscoe.

“Raise up and delegate someone in your church to lead the effort; pray for them; and begin prayer-walking the area where your project will take place,” Prince said.

Beam said too often church members tend to seek out people who look like them and sound like them, waiting for them to come to church, grow in faith and eventually begin to minister to others. That model, he said, should be flipped on its head, with Christians ministering to people where they are first, helping to build up their faith, knowing that church growth will result.

“I promise they will come in if we minister to them where they are,” Beam said.

He asked his audience to imagine the impact if churches all across the state could motivate 80% of their members to get involved during ServeNC. And he laid out practical tips on brainstorming, planning, promoting and carrying out ServeNC projects.

Already 34 SMBA churches have committed to the statewide initiative.

Tony Thomas, associate pastor for young adults and families at Prospect Baptist, followed Beam’s talk with an evangelism training, reminding the crowd that establishing a culture of prayer should be the first priority.

“Before we have the opportunity to talk to a man about God, let us first talk to God about that man,” Thomas said as he urged pastors to consider the power of their personal testimonies and to remember afresh how God had changed their lives. He stressed the importance of active listening, especially when it comes to engaging young people.

“Practical evangelism should be a dialogue, not a monologue,” Thomas said.

He introduced the crowd to mission balls — scripture-laden footballs and soccer balls used to share the gospel, and urged them to spend time in God’s word, knowing that planting it in their hearts and minds will prepare them for opportunities to share in their daily lives and during ServeNC projects.

SMBA vice-moderator Rodney Holmes, pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist in Troy, had opened Thursday night’s meeting in prayer. Moderator Ron Loflin, pastor of Uwharrie Community, greeted the crowd after the meal and a time of praise, led by Nick Allen, associate pastor at Troy First Baptist.

Prince closed the meeting with an update of SMBA activities and reminded the group of several upcoming events:

• Music Team meeting, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., SMBA Chapel.

• Regional Pastor Prayer meetings: North Stanly, April 24, noon, Kendalls; South Stanly, April 25, 9 a.m., Silver Springs; Albemarle, April 24, 8:15 a.m., Uwharrie; West Stanly, April 22, 10 a.m., Oakboro First; Bivocational, April 25, 6:30 p.m., Pizza Hut (N.C. 24-27).

• SMBA National Day of Prayer (May 2) observances: noon, TownStage, Troy; 6 p.m., City Lake Park, Albemarle.

• Pastor Family BBQ; May 18, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Darrell Almond Park, Norwood.

For more information about the Stanly-Montgomery Baptist Association, visit stanlymontgomery.com.