Evangelist-led worship 'hit the mark,' pastor reports
The worship service sponsored by Southern Baptist Evangelists, also known as the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, took place at First Baptist Church in Grapevine, where Doug Page has been pastor the last five years.
"Everybody [on stage] was passionate about Jesus. Several [members] told me after services that the Worship Encounter 'hit the mark,'" Page said.
"People were engaged and joyful, and so grateful to see the heart of those who served [in the service]," the pastor told Baptist Press at an after-church lunch for the group. "It was a blessing for us to have the Southern Baptist Evangelists here." For First Baptist, Page noted, "The heartbeat of this church is presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
During the call to worship, Russell and Kristi Johnson of South Carolina led the congregation in praise choruses "The Lion and the Lamb," "Jesus Only Jesus," "What A Beautiful Name" and "Angus Dei."
Richard Hamlet of Tennessee led a five-minute time of prayer, followed by the presentation of plaques of appreciation to Tom Cox Sr. of Arkansas and Marion Warren of Texas, both for 50 years of evangelistic ministry. Five others received similar honors during an earlier two-day retreat for the evangelists and their spouses: David Stockwell and Michael Gott, both of Texas, Leon Westerhouse of Alabama and Herman Rios of Florida, all for 50 years in evangelistic ministry, and Jeffrey Harvel of Tennessee for 25 years. Stockwell is the outgoing two-term president of Southern Baptist Evangelists.
In a time of special music, Marion Warren sang "I'd Rather Have Jesus" in a deep baritone and Samantha Reynolds of Texas sang "Clean" in a pure soprano.
Rick Gage of Georgia-based GO TELL Ministries gave his testimony to explain his exhortation based on Mark 5:19 to "Go tell your friend what great things the Lord has done for you."
"God has given this church dreams and visions to reach not only this metroplex … but the world," Gage said, referring to First Baptist Grapevine, where about 900 people gather on Sundays, with ministries reaching into Dallas and other parts of Texas, to Los Angeles, Calif.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Ecuador and Canada.
"God has no hands but your hands, no feet but your feet," Gage said. "In Texas there are 18 million lost souls. Go tell."
In a kind of evangelistic "show and tell," Steven Stockwell of Texas used a Rubik's Cube as he shared the Gospel. It took him three months to master the solution to the Rubik's Cube, Stockwell said as he presented the Gospel while clicking on the cube's colored squares, and 10 years to figure out how to use that skill in evangelism.
Stockwell, son of David Stockwell, concluded by explaining how each of the colors relates to the Gospel message, akin to the words used with a "power band" or "wordless book" and other evangelistic tools popular in recent years.
"Use your passion as an opportunity to share your story and how God changed your life," Stockwell said, encouraging the audience to use their interests in cooking, gardening, sports or other activities as bridges to sharing the Gospel.
Amy Stockwell, wife of David Stockwell, then sang "Cross of Love" with Kellan Monroe, worship pastor at First Grapevine and, in a high soprano solo, sang "How Great Thou Art" before her husband preached on "Thirst, Come, Drink," based on John 7:37-39.
"More people are coming to Christ right now than any other time in history," Stockwell said. "God can use you to lead people to Jesus. … We see people all around us who are hungry and thirsty, who need to call out to God.
"God has everything we need, physically and spiritually," Stockwell said. "Are you following Jesus as Lord? Have you given your life to Christ? What about your friends? We have a responsibility to tell them."
In the altar call that followed, more than half of the congregation came forward in a recommitment to testify to the people they know of the difference God has made in their lives.
"This was a wonderful worship celebration today," the elder Stockwell told Baptist Press after the service. "I think people were encouraged and blessed. It was a great spirit of renewal."
The two-hour service in the comfortably full gathering on both First Baptist's main floor and balcony of the fan-shaped First Grapevine worship center followed the two-day retreat at the Hyatt in downtown Dallas.
At the retreat, nearly 60 Southern Baptist Evangelists members and spouses encouraged each other, shared testimonies of God's activity among them over the last year, elected new officers and discussed future plans.
Sammy Tippit of San Antonio, Texas, was elected for a one-year term as president, with Frank Shivers of South Carolina elected as vice president. Amy Stockwell was reelected secretary/treasurer. Royce Williams of North Carolina was elected parliamentarian, while Kay Cox of Arkansas was reelected recording secretary.
In addition to honoring 50-year and 25-year evangelists, David Stockwell and Michael Gott were inducted into the Evangelists' Hall of Faith for their lifetimes of evangelistic service.
Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and Shane Pruitt, SBTC's director of evangelism, brought messages during the retreat.
As to plans for the future, Tippit said he has three things in mind for the Southern Baptist Evangelists organization: to partner more closely than in recent years with North American Mission Board, since "we're on the same team"; to bridge the gap with evangelists and local church pastors for each to better understand the other's needs and thinking; and to put a major emphasis on utilizing today's technology in evangelism.
"We're thankful for the gracious spirit shown us at First Baptist Church of Grapevine," Tippit told Baptist Press. "We believe this service has been a blessing to the people of this church and we know it has definitely been a blessing to all the evangelists."
Find out more about Southern Baptist Evangelists at sbcevangelist.org.