Last year, as North Carolina Baptists across the state prayed for God to pour out His Spirit and bring spiritual revival among His people, they also committed to return to God in personal holiness. Churches renewed their commitment to prayer, hosting prayer gatherings and participating in 60 days of prayer leading up to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) annual meeting in November.
With a theme of “Awaken,” the 2012 annual meeting marked the beginning of a spiritual awakening among N.C. Baptists.
This year churches are encouraged to continue praying for revival, as many are beginning to awaken to God’s purposes but do not yet fully grasp the urgency of the times in which we live. Each day is one day closer to the Lord’s return, and billions of people have yet to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.
As churches and individuals experience spiritual awakening the next step is to go forth into the Lord’s harvest fields, evangelizing and making disciples. The goal of awakening and personal holiness does not end with personal sanctification – the goal is Kingdom impact.
N.C. Baptists must awaken and then rise up, or arise, to advance the gospel and make disciples. Believers in Jesus Christ are called to be doers of the Word and to be people who reflect God’s glory through every aspect of their lives.
“No longer should the world have more of an influence on the church than the church is having on the world,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer. “We must commit ourselves to seeking God and to living holy lives that glorify God and give witness about Him to those who do not know Him as their personal Lord and Savior.”
This year’s annual meeting theme is “Arise,” based on Isaiah 60:1-3. N.C. Baptists will be challenged to move from awakening to action; to live as lights that shine and penetrate a spiritually dark world with the truth of the Savior’s love and mercy.
“The people of God are challenged to ‘arise, shine,’ because the Light-Giver has come and given them His glory to shine,” said Timmy Blair, BSC second vice president and pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier. “We must get out of our church building and begin penetrating the lostness that is in every city, town and rural community.”
Jason Whitfield is pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Stedman and a member of the Committee on Convention Meetings, which works with convention staff throughout the year to plan the annual meeting program. Whitfield said the committee is praying that this year’s annual meeting builds on last year and motivates N.C. Baptists to action.
The committee desires to see Christians arise and be active for Christ wherever they are, not shying away from sharing Christ in a culture that often does not believe or follow the truths of scripture.
“Arise is an action step after awakening. The next step is to be more proactive and actually do something about where we are spiritually within our state,” Whitfield said. “We need to not just sit back and see what is going on, but make an effort to do something about it.”
Jairo Contreras, pastor of the Hispanic Ministry of Sunset Avenue Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, is also a member of the Committee on Convention Meetings. Contreras believes that focusing on the theme “Arise” will help build on last year’s experiences because Christians cannot fully engage in spiritual awakening until they arise.
“We want to let people know that awakening is not enough for the task at hand. We need to arise and start moving,” he said.
Arising is not just a one-time event, but requires daily sacrifice, commitment and intentionality to pushing back spiritual darkness.
“If we really arise and go out and shine the light, we will make a difference,” Contreras said. “We need to be strong, stand up and shine the light of Christ.”
The annual meeting will be held Nov. 11-12 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. This year’s Convention sermon speaker is Southern Baptist Convention president Fred Luter. More details about worship, breakout sessions, exhibits, special music and guest speakers will be available in the coming months. Reservations are already underway for the Sheraton Four Seasons, the headquarters hotel. Reserve your room now by visiting ncannualmeeting.org.