Second Stage panel discussions at Georgia Baptist annual meeting prove popular, will be repeated next year


SNELLVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting added a new feature to the programming at the recent gathering at Snellville’s Church on Main. Six different forums provided helpful information on a stage adjacent to the display area.

The so-called Second Stage panels proved to be so popular that the state Mission Board plans to offer them again next year.

Chris Trent, the Mission Board's "Next Gen" catalyst, interviewed Shane Pruitt, the national "Next Gen" director for the North American Mission Board.

This Second Stage discussion was tremendously encouraging because Pruitt emphasized that the next generation is being referred to as the “revival generation.” He commented, “You will hear the word ‘love’ a thousand times (in our churches) before you hear the word ‘repentance’ or ‘holiness’ one time. But those words are associated with the movement of God. So, it is really a focus on personal revival; and we believe if we can get a lot of people to have a personal revival, it could turn out into a corporate revival.”

Another “Second Stage” discussion was led by Levi Skipper, the leader of the church strengthening team at the GBMB. Joining him on the stage were Jeff Jackson, pastor of First Redeemer Church in Cumming and Joel Southerland, pastor of Peavine Baptist Church in Rock Springs. These two pastors talked about how to establish an evangelism culture in the church. They agreed that the goal is not about filling buildings, but about reaching the city or community with the Gospel. Extremely practical suggestions were offered from these two successful pastors about ‘rescuing the perishing.’ It is not faithful attendance to church that is going to win the world to Jesus, but believers who are on the go with the Gospel.

A third “Second Stage” offering was led by Mark Marshall, assistant executive director of the GBMB, and dealt with the subject “Called to Cooperation.” John Waters, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Statesboro, and Lee Brewer, pastor of Palmetto Baptist Church, were Marshall’s guests on the platform. Both pastors alluded to the multiple requests that come from church members who request financial support for various mission projects and ministries, but explained, “From a practitioner’s standpoint, it helps us to say all of our giving and effort is funded through the Cooperative Program.”

A fourth “Second Stage” presentation featured Melissa Howard, who has started a ministry at First Baptist Church Jonesboro called “Restore to Me,” which is a post-abortion restoration ministry to help women walk through the challenges they face. Dallas White, pastor of Grove Church in Acworth, and Kyle Walker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cartersville, talked about the need for Georgia Baptists to become foster care parents to alleviate the crisis of the 15,000 foster children in Georgia.

Karen Pace, consultant with the Georgia Baptist Women’s staff, hosted Dr. Natalie Ford, a licensed counsellor and international member care at First Baptist Church Helen, Tera Melber, a trauma care specialist through Mission Georgia, and Lauren Sullens, president of Georgia Woman's Missionary Union, vice president of national WMU and pastor’s wife. These ladies discussed a myriad of issues including middle and high school students who are battling anxiety, pastors who struggle with depression and burnout, and even those who experience suicidal thoughts. They also identified resources available to those who are experiencing stress, depression, and mental anguish.

Chris Reynolds, GBMB’s lead strategist for Pastor Wellness hosted James Oney, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Tommy Fountain, Sr., pastor of 1025 Church in Monroe, and Chris Allen, pastor of First Baptist Church in Cairo, to talk about how pastors can keep their ministry fresh and their lives free from burnout. It was suggested that every pastor needs a mentor, needs to stay in the Word of God, maintain a consistent devotional life, and resolve to please the Lord because of the impossibility of trying to please all the people all the time, and the futility of trying to please some of the people all the time or all the people some of the time. GBMB’s pastor wellness staff has multiple resources for those who serve the people of God.