It was truly a blessing to attend the National Pastors’ Fellowship in Bradenton, Fl at the end of January which was organized by Arch Ministries of Mentor, OH. What made it even better was the fact that I was accompanied by my wife, Liz, and Keith and Kelly Ober. The theme of the conference was “Let’s Plant Together: Fruit of Interdependent Ministry” which emphasized the need for established churches to get involved in church planting or revitalization in America either directly through their own ministry or indirectly by partnering with a church planter. The need in our country for Gospel-preaching, Bible-teaching churches is great because so many churches have either compromised in doctrine or are failing. More sound churches here in our nation will enable us to send more missionaries to the uttermost parts of the world.
Along with the challenge to get involved in church planting, we were also exhorted to develop a disciple-making culture within our church where every member is involved in personal discipleship. In fact, it was implied that disciple-making in our own church should take priority over missions abroad. The idea is that we must first be faithful witnesses in our “Jerusalem,” then we can reach our “Judea, Samaria, and the end of the earth.” We were reminded from Scripture that disciple-making did not happen through programs or organizations but through loving relationships. Making disciples went beyond merely sharing the Gospel and God’s Word, but it also included sharing one’s life with another. Being at the conference and hearing the testimonies of pastors who were committed to having a disciple-making church reinforced my commitment to see the same thing happen here at IBC. I am encouraged to know that the leaders of our church want to see it too. Just see what Keith Ober, who is one of our elders, had to say about his time at the fellowship:
My experience at the National Pastor’s Fellowship was both refreshing and encouraging. It was humbling to see so many pastors gathering together to bless one another in genuine fellowship and to inspire one another by sharing their discipling experiences.
One of the most helpful insights I received was the message of simplicity in discipling. Words can unintentionally overwhelm or intimidate us…and to be honest…the word discipling has been that to me. What I learned was just how simple it can be to disciple another person. With the Word of God in hand and a genuine love for others in your heart, there is nothing preventing you from beginning a discipleship relationship with someone. Prayerful preparation and a submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit during your discipling time enables you to experience the joy of serving the Lord faithfully while fulfilling his command to make disciples. I hope you will prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to you the person he has for you to disciple…and then step out in faith that God provides exactly what you need to fulfill his purpose.
I want to express my gratitude to the church for giving us the opportunity to receive spiritual refreshment from the fellowship and ask how God might use it for the spiritual benefit of us all.
Pastor Jon Dillon