Not Alone has become more than a slogan for the SBC of Virginia; it has become a thread that runs through the heart of all we do in strengthening, mobilizing, planting, and revitalizing churches to fulfill the Great Commission. The theme of Not Alone sometimes feels different, though, to churches in the Southwest Region of the Commonwealth. Many churches in rural settings feel alone with struggling communities, increasing hardships, and declining congregations. Many have believed help was too far away.
In September 2017, they shared their concerns as SBCV’s executive director, Dr. Brian Autry, sat down with a group of pastors from across the Southwest Region. They asked him, “Why doesn’t SBCV have conferences closer than Roanoke?” and “Why is Homecoming always so far away?” Autry asked questions to find out what kind of conference they wanted, where they wanted it, and whom they wanted to speak. He, along with the SBCV, responded with SBCV’s first Southwest Empowered Bible Conference. It was a powerful opportunity for churches to learn more about the Gospel partnership available through the SBC of Virginia, to put their hands on the pulse of the SBCV, and to feel connected to the rest of the state.
The Southwest Empowered Bible Conference was a one-day event held twice—two different days in two different locations. Day one was held at Thomas Village Baptist Church in Duffield, and day two was held at Cedar Bluff Baptist Church in Akins. Over the two days, the 24 churches that came together for the conference were equipped and encouraged through the teaching of both Dr. Chuck Lawless and Rev. Jonathan Falwell. Lawless opened the Scriptures to teach on spiritual warfare, and Falwell unapologetically charged pastors to continue to preach Jesus and be His witnesses no matter the context or situation.
SBCV staff were present to connect with pastors and church members, answer questions, and share resources with the local churches. The conference showed attendees that they were not alone—whether because of their partnership with the SBCV, the teaching from God’s Word, or the folks they could connect with right in their area.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 concerning the battle of the mind: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (NKJV).
As we try to live and minister in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord, we have this experience in our flesh, and we often need to be reminded that we are prone to allow our feelings to dictate our actions and that we need to recognize the real enemy. The enemy is not people nor the world, but Satan, and he is the enemy of God, so the battle and weaponry are not ours. The battle is the Lord’s. The enemy uses loneliness to attack us because it makes us vulnerable. But we must remind ourselves—and the enemy—of the power of the Word of God and God’s presence with us. You are Not Alone. As His child, you have His Holy Spirit inside of you, and He promised that He would never leave you alone. As the Church, we are Not Alone—we have been placed side by side to work together to complete the Great Commission proclaimed in Matthew 28:18–20. And we know, “A cord of three is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NKJV).
You are Not Alone so that they are Not Alone. We are called to preach a Gospel bigger than any one of us and to reach a lost world that is bigger than we can reach on our own. Through the SBC, we are part of a sending network of churches, reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the SBCV, we are also a part of a fellowship of more than 700 churches that are reaching out to say that you are Not Alone.
Once the 2018 Southwest Empowered Bible Conference ended, the SBC of Virginia began to look ahead and make plans for 2019. We hope that you and your church will plan to take part in the Empowered Bible Conference this year.
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