Paul Purifoy and I have just returned from the Billy Graham Training and Conference Center at The Cove, in Asheville, North Carolina. We had the privilege of attending a conference for church leaders on the theme of discipleship training. The keynote speaker for the conference was Dr. Robert Coleman, whose classic book on discipleship, The Master Plan of Evangelism, is doubtless the most influential text on the subject in the English language. Dr. Coleman remembered speaking here at Metropolitan on two occasions. He and his wife are personal friends of Mrs. Irma Warr of our church, whose generosity helped make our trip a possibility.
The Cove is an incredibly beautiful training and conference center, nestled in the hollow of a mountain not far from Asheville. The scenery is spectacular; the rustic architecture of the lodge and dwellings is perfectly suited to the environment; the rooms were beautifully appointed; the food was delicious. All of these combined to add to the pleasure of the experience. But they were not the reasons we were there.
Paul and I were there to learn and to hear from God.
I can’t speak for Paul, but I really didn’t hear anything I hadn’t known (and preached) before. So why did we go? It was for fresh inspiration and motivation. I learned again how important it is for the churches of America to be about the business of carrying out our Lord’s Great Commission: to go into all the world and make disciples for Jesus.
I believe most members of Metropolitan Baptist Church would say they agree with that priority for the church. I am sure most of us would say we want our church to be a disciple-making congregation.
At the conference the Lord helped us learn some practical ways of integrating discipleship training into the normal flow of church life. Paul and I believe this should not be a boisterous church-wide enlistment campaign or a new technique for evangelistic salesmanship. Instead we intend to start small with a pilot project in discipleship training. If God’s people respond the way we think they will, spiritual multiplication will occur. A movement will spread that will influence the very character of our church, helping us become what we say we want to be. Who knows? This may result in spiritual and numerical growth for God’s glory. Stay tuned.