RIDGECREST, N.C. – Fred Luter urged attendees of Black Church Week to spiritual renewal and greater involvement in the Southern Baptist Convention. Among the highlights of the week were 40 professions of faith made during the CentriFuge camp for children and youth attending Black Church Week with their parents.
Addressing his recent election as SBC president, Luter gave attendees an overview of some of the expectations of his term.
“They (the SBC) fully expect me to nominate more African-Americans to serve on SBC boards and committees,” said Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and current president of the SBC. “Brothers and sisters, I’m excited about that. But let me be clear: you and your churches must be involved in the Cooperative Program and your local associations for me to do that. It’s the way the SBC operates.”
Luter also challenged attendees that before a believer can expect to be fully utilized by God, he must first be fully renewed by God.
“There are things the Lord requires of you and expects of you if you say ‘here am I, Lord; send me,'” said Luter, who preached twice during the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference, held July 23-27 at Lifeway Ridgecrest Conference Center.
“There’s not a day that goes by when we are not sifted and tried by our tormenter,” Luter said.
“None of us are exempt from attacks of the enemy. You can be single, saved and satisfied. You can be widowed and wonderful. You can be an upstanding usher or a devoted deacon . . . no one is exempt. There is no education or vocation which exempts you – the enemy will do all he can to attack the minds of the sons and daughters of God.
“If you are going to be victorious, faithful to God and go where God sends you, you must have a renewed mind,” he said. Luter drew from Philippians 2 to describe how having a renewed mind prepares the believer for a life of victory and obedience:
- A renewed mind should help you think about your Christ (Phil. 2:5). “In other words,” Luter said, “when I think about the goodness of Jesus and all He did for me, my soul shouts.”
- A renewed mind should help you think about your choices (Phil. 2:7). “Jesus didn’t allow His heavenly position and reputation to affect His earthy responsibilities,” Luter said. “If you want God to send you, you need to have your decisions and choices pleasing to your heavenly Father.”
- A renewed mind should help you think about the cross (Phil. 2:8). “Every time we take the Lord’s Supper at Franklin Avenue, it is an opportunity to turn our attention and remind us about the cross and the anguish He went through for us,” Luter said.
Black Church Week has been held for nearly 20 years and is the foremost opportunity for leadership and laypersons from African-American congregations across the nation to come together for fellowship, learning and worship.
Some 1,150 attendees from 27 states attended the conference with breakout training sessions led by nearly 70 leaders from Lifeway, individual churches, the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, state conventions and seminaries.
Jeffrey Curtis, Lifeway’s program director for Black Church Week, said the annual gathering serves as a vital connection – and often as a starting point – between African-American congregations and the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Black Church Week is such an important event because it helps create an awareness of who Lifeway is and the many biblical solutions and services we have for urban and black congregations,” he said. “Also, the week creates a better understanding of who Southern Baptists are and the scope of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
In a video shown before Luter preached, Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board greeted the attendees and expressed his excitement about the increase in ethnic church plants. More than half of the SBC churches planted in North America last year were ethnic congregations, he said.
Each year approximately half of the attendees at Black Church Week are first-timers, Curtis said.
“We hear it repeatedly each year that they weren’t aware there are African-Americans serving with the International Mission Board. They didn’t know the work of NAMB or SBC disaster relief. They didn’t know about the six SBC seminaries and how the Cooperative Program works,” Curtis said. “Awareness is huge – not just for Lifeway, but for the SBC.”
Russ Rankin is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources. For information on the 2013 Black Church Leadership and Family Conference, July 22-26 at Ridgecrest, go towww.lifeway.com/africanamerican.
Dr. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans and current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, preaches at Black Church Week, held July 23-27 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.
The “Who-so-ever Will” choir leads attendees of Black Church Week in corporate worship.
Chandra Bennett, editorial team leader, adult ministry publishing at Lifeway Christian Resources, leads a workshop on “Encouraging the Encouragers” at Black Church Week, held July 23-27 at Ridgecrest Conference Center.
Elizabeth Luter, Franklin Ave. Baptist Church in New Orleans, teaches a class at Black Church Week titled “Always True: God’s Promises When Life is Hard.”