The annual Engage Conference is taking place today and tomorrow at the Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta.
Delegates representing churches all across the Church of God from across the country have made the trek to Georgia to hear the latest trends and learn from some of the finest examples of church growth leaders in the nation.
Opening the first session at 1:00 p.m. was the praise and worship band of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Ga. Keynote speaker for the first three general sessions of the conference is Pastor Chris Hodges from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama. The cutting-edge church had over 40,000 people on Easter Sunday on five separate campuses and a reported 4,000 decisions for Christ.
Hodges noted he was well acquainted with the Church of God and its impact.
“The Church of God has stewarded the Charismatic movement,” he told the audience which filled the Great Room at the Mount Paran Church.
In his opening session, Hodges stated that he and his ministry have a goal to help, “1,000 churches under 1,000 to break 1,000.”
“God is anxious to bless His people and pour out His blessings, but it is not random,” Hodges stated. “There are things churches can do to prepare for His (God’s) presence to fall….there are small adjustments to self-diagnose and get the church house in order…God will not dwell in disorder.” He then went on to list Principles that Produce Momentum for church growth.
Hodges was scheduled to lead another afternoon session and a sermon in the evening. Afternoon breakouts were led by five members of Hodges staff and included prayer, small groups, programming, creating a discipleship culture and volunteers.
The Engage Conference will conclude on Friday with more general sessions and breakouts. Keynote speakers on Friday will include Shawn Lovejoy, Paul Walker and Raymond Culpepper.
Three Presented New Award at Engage Conference
Three pastors were recognized with the “Life-Giving Leadership Award” at the Engage Conference, which was conducted at Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta on May 12 and 13.
The purpose for the award is to recognize those who, “have nurtured a biblically-faithful, culturally-relevant ministry which demonstrates the spirit of the Engage conference,” stated Assistant General Overseer Mark Williams who presented the awards.
The three recipients are Michael Carr, Brent Stephens and Jerry Taylor. The three represent a cross-section of established and up-and-coming ministry leadership in the Church of God.
Twenty-five years ago, Carr left a ministry position with a church in Savannah, Georgia to plant a church in the resort coastal South Carolina town of Hilton Head. He began the church in a storefront and has since been faithful to the task, building a congregation of over 400 people in a town with a transitional population. From the storefront Carr moved to a former entertainment club and has transformed it into a worship center in the middle of some of the most valuable real estate in the country. Marty Baker, pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Ga., said of Carr, “Like the bridge that connects Hilton Head to the mainland, Michael built a bridge from the culture to the Bible. He is a pastor with a humble spirit.”
Brent Stephens was a state youth director in Louisiana when he felt the profound call to plant a church. Four years ago he began the Four Points Church located in Acworth, Georgia. The congregation runs approximately 300 operating under the four points of ministry: Love, Passion, Devotion and Legacy.
Jerry Taylor has quietly raised up a ministry that has touched the lives of thousands in the Mobile, Alabama area. The Bay Community Church has grown to be one of the largest churches in the Church of God, ministering to the poor and feeding the hungry. Bay Community Church has been a shining example of benevolence, sponsoring annual reach out events, such as giving away hundreds of bicycles at Christmas. Following Hurricane Katrina, Bay Community was one of the leading organizations in disaster relief and recovery and continues that ministry today.
The Engage Conference concluded on May 13 with a general session featuring Shawn Lovejoy, pastor of Mountain Lake Church. Former Church of God General Overseer Dr. Paul Walker was interviewed about his decades of leadership of the Mount Paran Church and current General Overseer Raymond Culpepper who led a closing session and communion.