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Prayer, spiritual renewal top listening sessions

5 Stones emphasis gaining momentum


Joe Westbury/Index

Randal Carson, pastor of First Church-Nahunta, directs a question to GBC Executive Director J. Robert White during the listening session in Southeast Baptist Association. About 30 pastors, directors of missions, and state representatives gathered to discuss how the strategy can bring more unchurched individuals to faith in Christ.

BRUNSWICK — Georgia Baptist pastors attending the second of six 5 Smooth Stones listening sessions believe that the emphasis’ overall points are on target and were especially pleased with priority that was given to the first point.

Spiritual renewal tops the list, followed by kingdom generosity, church revitalization, church planting, and authentic evangelism. Yet, it was the first priority that drew much of the discussion at the March 19 gathering at Southeast Association office.

“Each pastor needs to apply the principles of each stone to his life to internalize the concepts. We prove to God that we are serious about seeing Him move in our state when it becomes a part of who we are.

“Only then can we lead others in our churches to a similar commitment,” Brunswick pastor Craig Hartzog told The Index.

Hartzog, who serves at Northside Baptist Church, said he felt the 5 Stones is “a very solid approach” that will take a lot of work to implement “but it’s all biblical and based on the Great Commission. I feel this will give us the inspiration and motivation to bring it to pass.”

GBC Executive Director J. Robert White led the session and discussed the 5 Stones approach to “defeating the giant of 8.1 million lost people in Georgia by 2020.

“The five areas of focus are all important but I feel the most important is spiritual renewal. We need to pray for revival throughout Georgia and then go out bragging about what God is doing in our lives,” he said.

Joe Westbury/Index

Left to right, Bill Phillips, a deacon at First Nahunta; his pastor Randal Carson; Piedmont-Okefenokee Association Mission Strategist Greg Benfield; Smyrna Association Director of Missions Ray Coleman; and retired Southeast Assocation Director of Missions John Carr listen and take notes during the session.

Randal Carson, pastor of First Church Nahunta, said he appreciated GBC staff holding the listening sessions across the state to help pastors flesh out the concept.

“I am grateful that GBC staff came all the way down here to our part of the state to help us catch the vision. That is how we are going to communicate it to our churches. I was not able to attend the November convention meeting when it was unveiled but I did watch the presentation live online. This meeting today, with other pastors in the room, was very beneficial.”

Carson said he held a training session using a streaming online video from the convention’s Sunday School/Open Groups department and it was “one of the best we have ever had. We trained 18 folks in a dozen sessions and it was very helpful.”

Pastors agreed that the session was beneficial because representatives of each of the emphases were on hand to share ways the convention can resource churches in all five areas of the emphasis.

GBC President John Waters stated that, “our future is far better than our past. Let’s dwell on what unites us and how we can pick up these five stones and run toward the enemy to defeat him.”

GBC representatives attending the session included Tim Smith from Sunday School/Open Groups, Steve Parr from Evangelism, Butch Butcher from Church Planting, Marty Youngblood from Prayer and Spiritual awakening in Church-Minister relations, Buck Burch from Cooperative Program/Advancement and Endowment, and Jonathan Jordan from Discipleship. GBC Assistant Executive Director Bobby Boswell assisted Dr. White in the presentation.

Joe Westbury/Index

Northside-Brunswick pastor Craig Hartzog visits with other pastors prior to the opening of the March 19 session.

"We prove to God that we are serious about seeing Him move in our state when it becomes a part of who we are."

Craig Hartzog, pastor

Upcoming listening sessions

• Monday, Sept. 24, First Bremen, noon to 2 p.m., lunch provided

• Tuesday, Sept. 25, Center Point Church, Lafayette, 10:30 a.m. to noon

• Monday, Oct. 1, Central Church, Warner Robins, 10:30 a.m. to noon

• Oct. 15, Toccoa Conference Center, 10:30 a.m. to noon, lunch provided

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