“Arise” became the next step after “Awaken” for the 2013 Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting Nov. 11-12 in Greensboro.
Steve Corts, senior pastor of Center Grove Baptist Church in Clemmons, and Larry Doyle, director of missions of Piedmont Baptist Association, were chosen to share a theme interpretation Nov. 12 with messengers. The 2013 theme “Arise” builds on the 2012 theme “Awaken.”
Based on Isaiah 60:1-3, Corts encouraged listeners to “rouse yourself from a posture of resting.”
This particular passage – which is both prophetic and prescriptive – “shows us that for the people of God today there are some extraordinary opportunities just waiting to be seized,” he said.
Arise, Corts said, “conveys a notion of rising for a particular purpose.” People should get up and get ready. “This is vital especially for us Baptists because we are by nature activists,” Corts said.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Steve Corts senior pastor of Center Grove Baptist Church in Clemmons, shared from his ministry experience the next step after the 2012 theme “Awaken.”
“In recent generations it seems we have become predominantly a get up and get at it kind of people. We’ve taken to saying, ‘God … we are doing some things for Your Kingdom. Why don’t you come along with us” Why don’t you come along and watch what we can do?’”
Rather than espousing our plans, strategies or methods, Corts urged messengers to shine.
“[It’s] not something we’re asked to do as much as it is something that we’re invited to have done to us,” he said.
“There is, you see, a passivity that God prefers to activity. It’s a passivity that comes from the realization that unless God goes first in a matter our going means nothing … that unless God works first, our work is for nothing.”
Corts called on people to stop cursing the darkness.
“The problem with the darkness is not the darkness. The problem is with the light that refuses to shine. When God’s people become what they’re meant to be by choosing to change and choosing to be changed, they become the change that the world around them shrouded in darkness needs to see and experience.”
As a fourth-generation pastor with more than 30 years in ministry, Corts said fervent prayer is needed. Preaching, programming, planning and strategic initiatives are pointless without fervent prayer.
Early on Corts had asked messengers to write down three things: 1) the greatest single challenge you and your family are facing right now; 2) the single greatest challenge your church is facing right now; and 3) 9.0. Near the end of his message he asked the people to stand and look at that list.
“I want you look at that number,” Corts said, “9.0 – that is the single greatest challenge Baptists in North Carolina face; nine million living in the darkness.”
As he closed he asked the people to look at their lists. Corts shared what he believes are the five most powerful words in the English language: I can’t, but You can.”
“I can’t heal my marriage. I can’t rescue that wayward son or daughter that is breaking my heart,” he said.
“I can’t get free of my past on my own, but Father God I can’t but You, You can.
“Our church is struggling; our church is hurting; our church is dead. Father I can’t, I can’t, I can’t do anything about it … but Father God I know You can.”
Laying those problems out before the Lord is the most powerful prayer one can offer, Corts said.
Building on what Corts shared, Doyle said the discipleship deficit is “crushing the life out of the church.” After 29 years of pastoral and missionary service and now 12-and-a-half years in associational work, he said his heart continues to be broken over this deficit.
BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Larry Doyle, left, director of missions for Piedmont Baptist Association, expands on the “Arise” theme for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina annual meeting.
Using Matthew 28:18-20, Doyle said Baptists have been good at making other Baptists, committee members, church goers but “we are woefully lacking in making disciples who make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.”
While struggling with the issue of making more disciples, Doyle said there is a more fundamental question: How do we glorify God?
“Glorifying God is the heart and soul of everything we do as a follower of Christ,” Doyle said.
“It is the reason we exist. It is the purpose of the church. It is the filter by which we evaluate everything we do.”
Doyle asked messengers to dream with him “about something that may seem wild and crazy.
“What if in every neighborhood, in every city, in every county, in each of these neighborhoods there were a group of followers of Christ who covenanted together to be on mission as a family of missionaries? What if these family of missionaries consistently and intentionally brought glory to God by the way that they loved and witnessed to and cared for their neighbors?”
Instead of being critics and asking, “Why,” Doyle encouraged participants to be visionaries and ask, “Why not?”
Doyle and his wife have decided to be on mission in their community and they have joined with other believers to be on mission together. “That’s where we’re living out church,” Doyle said. “That’s where we are living out the Great Commission.”
Referring back to Corts’ message earlier in the day, Doyle said, “It’s not what we can do; it’s what He can do. I can’t but He can.”