Did We Have Revival?

ENCOUNTER revival services were held last week at The Rock Ranch. The worship, led by many of our local music ministers, was excellent. Jon Reed preached powerful, convicting messages. People responded both with public decisions and ones made quietly between them and the Lord. Every aspect of the revival including parking, child care, hospitality, greeters, security, media, setup and tear down, response team and follow up were all handled with excellence. The folks at the Rock Ranch made every effort to meet our needs. If I were to check off the boxes on my list of what needed to happen logistically, I could check them all.

But I am interested in more than being able to say we had a great event. ENCOUNTER began as a desperate prayer that God would bring a harvest of souls to our area. The need was great when we began praying and it is still great today. We realized that the Church needed spiritual renewal and a refocus on evangelism. We prayed and prepared for revival in hopes that the Lord would answer our prayers and use ENCOUNTER as a catalyst to change what needed to change in our hearts and in our churches.

So the question remains: Did we have revival?

I believe the answer is different depending on who you talk to. If you were to talk to the two dozen or so people who accepted Jesus as Savior, they would tell you that their lives will never be the same. They were reborn and now have an eternal home. If you were to ask the pastors who now have new believers in their churches as a result of someone inviting a lost friend or family member to ENCOUNTER, they would tell you that God has truly blessed. If you were to ask believers who repented of their lack of spiritual fruit, they would tell you how God has given them a new desire to see people come to Jesus and an urgency to be what God has called them to be.

There is no doubt that many of those who attended ENCOUNTER experienced personal revival. My prayer is that this revival becomes so evident in our lives that it extends to those around us. I pray for that thirty-fold, sixty-fold, one hundred-fold fruit in our lives. And I pray that we cannot keep silent about what God is doing.

I heard two sermons on the Sunday following ENCOUNTER. It was obvious that both were informed by what those pastors had experienced in their own lives during the revival. I was challenged once again to go beyond what is comfortable and to tell the simple story of the Gospel and how it has changed my life.

I thank God for what He accomplished through ENCOUNTER. I expect the ripple effect to impact our churches for a long time. Real revival has a way of spreading. I believe it has a greater impact if it builds over time, and that is what I am praying for. I cannot speak for you, but I know I had revival. How about you?

September CBA Newsletter

A Word from Your Missionary:

Fifteen years ago our world changed forever. Terrorists took control of four planes with the intention of bringing our nation to her knees. The towers fell. The Pentagon was rocked. A field in Pennsylvania became a memorial to brave souls who attempted to take back their plane. And on September 11, 2001, and in the days to follow our nation did fall to her knees. For the first time in a long while, we were united in our grief and looked to God Almighty for comfort and healing.

Many people believed God would use that tragic day to bring revival throughout our land. His presence and influence could be felt everywhere. People were unashamed to speak His name. He did bring some to Himself. He did remind us of what could be and of our great need for Him. However, eventually people forgot how desperately we need the Lord. Most Americans stopped looking to God and simply got used to the new normal.

I believe God still wants to revive His church in America. I believe His grace is still sufficient to save lost souls. I believe He still desires repentance and obedience. Not so we can be better Americans or so our nation will prosper. But so we, the children of God, can be the Church shining the light of Christ as a beacon to those who are lost and hurting.

Join me this September 11th as I pray for our nation, our communities and the lost all around us. What if every church set aside time on that Sunday as a solemn assembly dedicated to prayer and repentance? ENCOUNTER begins the following evening. We have all prayed and prepared for a harvest of souls. Let us make sure our own hearts are right and ready for revival, so that we can make Him known.

In His Name,

Steve Laughman

August 2016 CBA Newsletter

The time has arrived for the rubber to meet the road, the hammer to hit the nail, the boots to be on the ground. Use whatever metaphor works for you. It is crunch time, and I could not be more excited. We have all worked toward this moment for about a year. ENCOUNTER starts in just a few weeks. As the time arrives, let us keep a few things in mind:

·         Prayer is the most powerful evangelistic tool we have. When we pray daily for our lost friends and family by name, our hearts turn to God’s desire for their souls. We begin to look for opportunities to share Christ with them. We get excited about how God is moving them toward Himself. Do not neglect seeking the Lord when it comes to a spiritual harvest.

·         The Holy Spirit is in charge. Although we get to be the hands and feet, working to put all the pieces together, we recognize that everything we do must be led by God’s Spirit. Our worship, our service, our planning, and our goals should all be designed by Him and filled with His presence. Be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit will guide you during this time of revival.

·         Conflict is from the enemy. Satan will use whatever we allow him to use to defeat God’s plan. Sometimes that tool is church members who are angry, bitter and selfish. We must seek unity in and among our churches and put aside our own preferences for the sake of the Gospel.

There is much more I want to share, but space and time are limited. Go to our website for resources related to ENCOUNTER. Be a part of what God is doing in our community through this event. It is not too late to get involved. I hope to see you all, and those you bring with you, at ENCOUNTER, September 12-15 at the Rock Ranch.

In His Name,

Steve Laughman

Praying for Revival

Lately, I have had several people ask me how many people will be attending the area-wide revival called ENCOUNTER at the Rock Ranch on September 12-15, 2016. Some of those people are just curious. Others need to know for logistical reasons like how many Chick-fil-A sandwiches to prepare. My answer is usually the same: "I have no idea."

I can guess, and I usually offer that, too. But, the truth is that I am concerned that the urgency I feel for revival is not shared by most people. I know that many of our pastors and church members have already begun to pray and prepare for revival. They are invested with their time and talents already. Their enthusiasm and passion for God to move matches mine, and I am thankful that we share that vision.

The question then comes regarding how to convey what we feel to all of those around us: lost people, apathetic church members, Christians who are so busy with life that spiritual things become secondary. We can shout from the pulpits of our churches. We can inform people through social media, our church signs, and our bulletins. We can even personally implore people. All of that may influence some, but I believe that the answer is simpler than that.

We must pray. Not the quick sentence we say before we eat, or the sleepy goodnight we say to the Lord as we doze at night. We must dedicate ourselves to praying specifically for the lost and for revival in our own lives. I received an email regarding praying for revival recently. It stated "If Jesus could say to Lazarus, 'Lazarus, come forth', He can say to Revival in America, 'Revival, come forth'. We intend to ask Him." I want us to have that kind of boldness before God. I desire to see God move among our churches long before September. My hope is that by the time ENCOUNTER rolls around, revival has broken out and souls are being saved all over our area. But we must pray.

Revival does not happen without God's people getting real before Him. We must examine our lives for sin and repent. I have witnessed more conflict in churches over the last few months than ever before in my ministry. I believe it is Satan's ploy to distract us from what God wants to accomplish through us. A church in conflict is usually not a church that is winning the lost. We must repent corporately and get past whatever is causing the trouble. Our singular focus must be on the Kingdom of God - glorifying our King and bringing the lost to Him.

I have made a commitment to the Lord to pray daily for the lost people in my life by name and for ENCOUNTER. I hope you will join me. I choose to pray at 9:12 since September 12th is the first day of revival. Perhaps this time works for you as well. Regardless of when you pray, let us boldly approach our Father's throne together for the sake of those who need Jesus.

Join me for "The Most Important Day" on July 30th at 10 AM at First Baptist Barnesville. Jon Reed will share a simple plan for engaging the lost, investing in their lives, and inviting them to ENCOUNTER. This training is for EVERY CHURCH MEMBER, not just pastors and leaders. Encourage your entire church family to be there. It will only take a couple hours of your time, and it will be well worth it.

April CBA News Article

On the front page of our recently updated website, you will find the words “The Power of Partnership.” I chose those words, because I believe that we are stronger together than we could ever be on our own. That is true for us as individuals and as individual churches. Each body of believers exists to glorify God in their own area of influence, to equip believers in their own congregation, and to reach the lost in their own community. However, as a whole, the Church is one body with “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father”(Eph. 4:5-6). As Southern Baptists, one way that we demonstrate this truth is by cooperatively supporting missions through Centennial Association, the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, and the International Mission Board.

At the end of this month, we have the opportunity to celebrate these partnerships at the Bridges Conference. On April 30th, pastors and church leaders will join with State Missionaries and representatives from NAMB and IMB to enjoy a meal together at First Baptist Thomaston and hear about the work that God is doing through our missions sending agencies. Dr. J. Robert White, Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board will be our keynote speaker. I am thankful that so many of our churches have already planned to be a part of this. Then on the next day, most of our churches will have a State Missionary in their worship services to share a message from God’s Word and a testimony of how God is using their ministry to reduce lostness in Georgia. I want to remind each church that they are doing this as part of their ministry, so your church should not plan to give an honorarium.

For those of you who joined us for the Spring Meeting last month, you heard all about the upcoming ENCOUNTER Harvest Revival. I believe God is preparing our area for a harvest by encouraging us to become laborers in the field. Larry Wynn challenged us to cast the seed of the Gospel anticipating a harvest of souls. Thank you for your response to the call to revival. I want to also thank New Hope for being such a gracious host church.

One last note on the topic of missions: Early this month, we will once again host the Baptist Mobile Health Ministry’s Dental Clinic. There is still a need for volunteers to help with registration and sharing the Gospel with those who come. If you are willing to be a part of this outreach effort, please contact our office soon so that we can be ready for those who come for dental care. If you are unable to help, please keep the weekend of April 7-9 in your prayers as we seek to reach souls through meeting physical needs.

In His Name,

Steve Laughman

Thank you for a GREAT Spring Meeting

Aren't Associational business meetings supposed to be boring?

Hopefully, the Centennial Baptist Association will never be accused of that. Last night was once again a testimony to what God is doing in and through our churches and the association as a whole. During our business meeting, we voted to accept Concord Baptist Church as a new member church. I praise the Lord that we have this new opportunity to work alongside another great church.

We also heard from a number of our ministry leaders about the work that is being done. Continue to check out the upcoming events on this website for more information on each of these. Remember that the slate of new officers, ministry leaders, and committee members goes into effect on October 1, 2016. If you are already serving in those roles, you still have a few months to go.

New Hope was a great host church. They provided a wonderful meal, as well as welcoming us into their place with open arms. Thank you to Interim Pastor Jim Waller and the rest of the folks from New Hope.

You responded in a big way to the request to help out the Georgia Baptist Children's Home. I know that the resources you provided will serve to help those in need. We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the Children's Home, as God continues to use them to meet the needs of hurting children and families.

The evening was made even better as we worshiped our Lord and heard from Larry Wynn, Vice-President of Church Revitalization and Evangelism at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. Ryan Showalter and the folks from FBC Thomaston did a beautiful job leading us to the throne of God through song. Larry challenged each of us to do our part to bring people into the Kingdom of God. We were reminded once again that evangelism is not complicated. "We do not have a harvest problem. We have a labor problem."

If you attended the meeting, you heard a lot about ENCOUNTER, the Area-Wide Revival scheduled for September 12-15, 2016 at the Rock Ranch. Let me challenge you and encourage you with the following:

  • We collected nearly $1100 last night for ENCOUNTER.

  • Several churches have accepted the responsibility of heading Ministry Teams, but there are still many more where we need your help.

  • Jon Reed's video encouraging you to participate in the Most Important Day of ENCOUNTER, July 30 is available to you on the DVD that was handed out with your minutes.

  • You also have the artwork for the business cards that were passed out. If you want a banner like the one hanging in the sanctuary last night, use that artwork. Contact me if you have questions about that.

  • If your church would like more business cards to invite folks, come by the CBA office. We still have plenty.

  • As Larry reminded us, we need to begin identifying, investing in, and inviting specific people who we believe need Jesus in their lives. You can start doing this now, long before September.

Thank you for all you do for Christ's Kingdom and His church! It is an honor to serve with you.

March CBA News Article

A Word from Your Missionary:

Years ago I was part of an area-wide revival that we called “Soul Harvest.” It was a beautiful experience as churches of various denominations and racial backgrounds joined together for worship and the proclamation of God’s Word. I was appointed to organize the counseling area, which was a large hallway next to the school gym where we were meeting. On the night Larry Wynn preached, I believe it was a Tuesday, God made His presence known and 62 people made decisions to follow Christ. Our hallway was packed full. There were counselors talking with two or three people at once. Bibles and materials were being passed out faster than we could get them out of the boxes. It was so much fun!

We are blessed to have Larry Wynn scheduled to preach at our CBA Spring Meeting and One Day Revival at New Hope, Thomaston, on Tuesday, March 15th. The business meeting will start at 5:00, followed by a meal at 6:00 and then the Revival service at 7:00. Encourage your entire church family to attend this service. We always have a great time of worship when we get together, but I believe this one is going to be even better. You do not want to miss it.

God is moving among our churches. I hear over and over about people coming to Christ and baptismal pools being filled. Our communities need to see God at work in our churches. I am encouraged by what I see. Church members are going outside the church walls to engage the lost. There is a sense of urgency to share the Gospel. As pastors and church leaders, many of you have the privilege to equip the saints to do this work. Jon Reed made the statement recently that he believes every Christian has a desire to win someone to Christ. They just need the tools and the encouragement. Together, we can make Jesus known throughout Pike, Upson, Monroe and Lamar counties. May our passion for Christ make others hungry for Him, as well.

Pray for our students this month as we have our annual discipleship weekend, EQUIP, at Silvertown on March 4 & 5. If you haven’t yet registered your group, it is not too late. I hope to see you there.

In His Name,

Steve Laughman