Conference Prayer Time

DEARBORN, Mich.—Preaching on the second night of the GARBC Conference, Dave Doran offered conference guests a sermon of encouragement from 1 Corinthians 4.

“God wants us to remain steadfast so that, in the words of this text, the glory of God can shine in the face of Jesus Christ,” Doran says.

On a day devoted to basic spiritual disciplines like prayer and humility, Doran’s sermon was partly a warm hug and partly a kick in the pants. He has ministered at Inter-City Baptist, Allen Park, Mich., for 24 years, long enough to see the ups and downs of ministry. He worries that ministry discouragement, when handled wrongly, will cause pastors to question the power of the gospel. So his advice to discouraged leaders was simple: “Get up and do it again! Don’t give up on the thing that God says brings life.”

Welcoming Doran to the conference, GARBC National Representative John Greening thanked him for his help with conference preparations and for opening his church to host the annual Talents For Christ competition. The speaking invitation had come later, at the last minute, leading to a bit more Doran advice about choosing a speaker.

“If you are looking for conference speakers, you’re looking for Jonah, not Isaiah,” Doran says with deliberate irony. “Jonah had the great revival. Whose gonna bring in the guy that nobody listened to?”

Doran was driving home a point about market-driven ministry, the idea that “if they draw a crowd, God’s hand must be upon him.” As a result, discouraged leaders sometimes count numbers and assume there must be some flaw in the gospel.

“Our answer is not to morph the message,” Doran says, even though “preach the Word” does not seem like an intuitive strategy. “God did not design all of this so the marketer and the messenger could be magnified.”

“Preacher, don’t take the rejection of God’s truth personally. It’s not about you, unless you were preaching you,” Doran says.

Pastor George Coon

The conference day started with a time of prayer at 8:30 a.m., followed by George Coon’s stirring challenge for corporate prayer.

“I believe when the corporate body gathers together to pray, divine things happen. And when divine things happen, God gets the glory,” says Coon, pastor of Northeastern Baptist Church, Kalamazoo, Mich.

The day’s worship was led by Nathan Pierpont, assistant pastor at Northeastern Baptist, who led the conference guests from the keyboard. Nathan and his wife, Jennifer, had an extensive gospel recording ministry prior to joining the church staff.

At the conclusion of the morning service, Michael Nolan presented checks to Baptist Builders Club recipients and introduced a new disaster relief program for churches and ministry teams. Daria Greening hosted a lunch for women in ministry. John Greening evaluated eight ministry trends during an afternoon session with pastors, giving each attendee a copy of Biblical Slave Leadership by Dan Anderson.

During the afternoon business session, messengers approved two amendments to the GARBC Articles of Faith, clarifying the association’s position on marriage and church leadership.