In Matthew 28, Jesus commands His followers to go and make disciples, and on Aug. 20 many North Carolina Baptists gathered in Statesville to learn how to do just that.
At the One Day conference held at Western Avenue Baptist Church, pastors, church staff and lay leaders joined together to learn how to make disciples who impact lostness in their daily lives. The event was sponsored by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
Cris Alley, the BSC strategic coordinator for the Triangle region, was the event’s keynote speaker, and conference-goers had the option to attend 15 different equipping tracks covering various church ministries, including a Hispanic track for Spanish speakers.
During the opening session, Lynn Sasser, executive leader for the evangelism and discipleship group, introduced Patterned, the recently-released 10-week Bible study produced by the convention. With contributions from many N.C. Baptists, the study is designed for all Christians to gain spiritual depth and to give practical application for disciple-making.
Throughout the event, disciple-making remained the focus of One Day. In his keynote address, Alley spoke about God’s own method of disciple-making: God calls people out of the world, grows them in His image and sends them back into the world.
“As God grows you as an individual in His image, your life shows those whom you disciple an unforgettable picture that life is better lived God’s way,” Alley said. “The image of God in your relationships helps the unbeliever believe the unbelievable.”
A highlight of the event was the Hispanic track, which drew an especially large crowd this year. More than 100 people attended this track, representing almost a 300 percent increase in this track’s attendance since it was last held in 2015.
Those who came to the Hispanic track learned how to create a disciple-making culture and strategy among Hispanics, how to respond to the immigration needs of Hispanics and how to network among Hispanics for disciple-making. One Day was designed to equip all North Carolina Baptists – from pastors to lay members – to be disciple-makers and to help local churches create disciple-making cultures. That aspect of the conference was what drew many to attend.
Lori Smoot, a member of Hales Chapel Baptist Church in Zebulon, recently came back to the United States after serving overseas for four years with the International Mission Board (IMB). She said she came to One Day because she wanted to learn how to be a part of living life on mission in North America.
“I really want to embrace the culture that we have as Americans and share the gospel within it,” Smoot said. “I want to just encourage local churches to share the gospel and to make disciples.”
Many pastors also attended this event, including Pastor Elijah London of Sweetwater Baptist Church in Hickory. London said he thought One Day addressed the church’s need to return to discipleship and live out the Great Commission.
“We need to turn from our way of doing things to back to what the Bible teaches us to do to be about the main mission of Jesus,” London said.
“We can take the tools we’ve gained here back as we try to make disciples within our context at our church, and then begin to saturate the environments around us with the gospel.”