Pastors plead for spiritual renewal, repentance among Florida Baptists
Jul 28, 2014
By BARBARA DENMAN
Florida Baptist Convention

STARKE (FLBaptist)—Seeking to fill a spiritual hunger, 234 Florida Baptist pastors and ministers fell on their knees to pray for personal renewal, family, churches and others, as well as revival in the state and nation, when they gathered in pastor-led prayer meetings held across the state in May and June.

Pastors from Pensacola to Miami joined together in five regional prayer meetings held at Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota, May 19; First Baptist Church in Chipley, First Baptist Church in Kissimmee, and First Baptist Church in Boca Raton, June 17; and Madison Street Baptist Church, June 24.
 
Gathering in small groups, pastors pray for repentance in their own lives, for their families and churches, and for each other. FBC photo by Michael Duncan
“It was a time for refreshing and renewal in our lives,” said John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church in Jacksonville, who attended the Starke meeting. “I am thankful that I was there.”    
 
The most meaningful aspect to Green “was when we prayed for one another’s churches. We often pray for our life, our church, our ministry. It was a great sign of unity and kingdom-mindedness for us to pray for other churches and pastors.” 
 
The prayer meetings were an outgrowth of “Engage Florida,” a statewide emphasis designed as a four-year effort to ignite people to become engaged in God’s mission. Engage Florida is the next phase of ReVision Florida, developed by the State Board of Missions as a response to the “Imagine In … Great Commission Resurgence Task Force” to involve Florida Baptists in spiritual renewal. 
 
Each meeting was facilitated by pastors of the host churches and prominent Florida Baptist pastors—Ken Whitten, Idlewild Baptist Church; Tommy Green, First Baptist in Brandon; Ted Traylor, Olive Church in Pensacola; and Jimmy Scroggins, First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach.
 
During the time in West Florida, Traylor explained how the gathering was a grassroots effort and told the group, “As Johnathan Edwards said, ‘We have to do something.’ So men, we will pray and ask God’s presence and blessings.
 
“We must pray and pray hard. Where pastors go, people will follow. We need to get on our knees and beg him to move among us. We need revival, my church needs revival, our state and nation need revival.”
 
Tommy Green told the Southwest Florida and Northeast Florida groups, “Our churches must come together in unity or we won’t see revival.”
 
Several of the keynote speakers cited Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the
breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none” to lead the pastors to pray for their own repentance and spiritual renewal. 
 
Other Scripture presented included: Ephesians 5:25 and 28; 6:1 and 6:4 to lift up their families; Matthew 16:17 to pray for their churches; and James 5:16 for healing.
 
Interspersed between the Scripture were times of individual prayer, prayer in groups and corporate prayer; as well as music. Some pastors received specific prayers for needs in their own lives and churches as fellow pastors laid hands on those in need to lift them up before God.
Rich Kincl, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tallahassee, called the West Florida gathering “tremendous, a blessing to me, personally. Nobody knows pastors like pastors. We have a tremendous calling, tremendous responsibilities and tremendous stress. It was good to get together with fellow pastors. God spoke to me.”
 
Many of those in attendance were moved that each of the keynote speakers and pastors displayed a transparency and vulnerability in their own lives. 
 
“It was refreshing and humbling to see so many pastors calling out to God for a moving of His Spirit,” said Eddie Eaton, pastor of West Pittman Baptist Church in Westville.
 
Russell Johnson, pastor of the Spanish-speaking International Bible Baptist Church in Miami, called the meeting “a win-win for everyone present.” 
 
“I believe the greatest value is simply the living out of Hebrews 10:24-25, where we were able to motivate one another to acts of love and good works, as well as encourage one another in said work,” he said.
 
“We need that as pastors. Our people need us to be strengthened to help them face the realities of the broken world in which we live in with the power of the Gospel and the message of grace.”
 
Many of the pastors were able to form new bonds of relationships with the pastors they knew and ones they had met for the first time. 
 
“To gather with other pastors for prayer was special,” said Carlos Lugo, pastor of Atlantic Baptist Church in Margate. “As leaders, we sometimes find ourselves limited in what we can ask others to pray for us. At the meeting, we simply shared many of the same concerns and challenges. It helped us to reconnect with co-laborers and recharge our passion for ministry.”
 
Lugo and others called for the prayer meetings to continue.
 
“God willing, I will be attending the gatherings in our area for as long as they have them,” he said.
 
Florida Baptist State Convention President Tim Maynard, pastor of Fruit Cove Baptist Church in St. Johns, said concerted prayer efforts are “imperative” for Florida Baptists.
 
“No great movement of God biblically or historically began without God’s people prostrate before Him in prayer,” Maynard said. “I pray for Florida Baptists that these meetings will be seen as the birthplace of awakening and true revival in our state.” 
 
John Green concurred, “We must seek God and cry out to Him more, to call on Him to awaken His church and to save the lost. My hope is that this wouldn’t be a one-time emphasis across our state, but that it would be the beginning of a movement of God.”

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