IMG_4204MOORE—Church leaders were urged to “shift” how they do ministry by speakers at the 2009 State Pastors’ Conference Nov. 9 at Moore, First.

Jim Prock with Encouragement Ministries of Oklahoma City, focused on Rom. 12:2 “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” as he reminded the pastors and others present that Alfred Einstein’s definition of insanity was doing things the same way over and over and then expecting to achieve different results.

IMG_4208Prock, who was a pastor for 10 years, and is also director of planned giving with the American Cancer Society, said, “I challenge you today. Programs aren’t the answer . . . relationships are the answer. You can’t have real love without a relationship.”

He said people don’t just want to come to church and fill a pew or become another statistic; nor are they essentially interested in our worship style.

IMG_4217“We will not win our world by tweaking our worship service,” he declared, stressing that a true shift “starts at repentance, then we need to restructure; we need to get alone with God and say, ‘Speak to me, Lord.’”
Bob Waitman, pastor of Madill, First, who described himself as a “hog farmer” who has served for 30 years as a bivocational pastor, likened many churches today to a lot full of stalled vehicles.

“A bunch of our churches are parked cars,” he asserted, “but we look cool.”

IMG_4218Waitman, who has led his church to massive growth in eight years, said “we need to be filled with power,” referring to Acts 1:8.

But, while we are “powering up,” if you will, we need to make sure we shift without compromise, said Mike Booth, pastor of Oklahoma City, Emmaus.

“We must learn to be in touch with the culture, but in tune with Christ,” Booth cautioned.

Drawing a comparison between Americans by dividing them between those born before 1973 and those after 1973—the year the cell phone was invented—Booth said reaching both groups presents a challenge.

He labeled those born before 1973 “Immigrants” and those after “Googlers.” The former, he said, are living in a world infused with the new language of the latter.

“We live in an I-centered world,” he said. “We have ‘I Phones’, ‘I Pods’, I everything. We can’t even spell we without two Is!”

Booth said immigrants see things like oranges and they peel it, split it into sections and devour it section by section. Googlers see things as an apple and “eat it whole.”

He pointed out that the Bible wasn’t written in verses, but in stories.

“Let’s not dissect the Word of God, but keep it whole,” he proclaimed. “Our challenge is to upgrade without compromise. The old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply anymore, because the book no longer has a cover.”

Wendell Lang, senior pastor of West Jackson Church in Jackson, Tenn., said, “We are used to a lot of strong words today: racism, disease, death, famine and civil war. The strongest word in the Old Testament is ‘Ichabod,’ which means the glory of God has departed.”

“We need to shift from Ichabod to Ebenezer.”

“For our church to shift today, we must engage the clutch, just like in making a vehicle with a manual transmission move.”

He said we must get rid of our other gods of today.

“Our darling god today is sports,” he said. “To shift, we have to repent and confess to engage that clutch. Then, we have to get alone with God and fast. Finally, we must pray. The church is dead on its feet because it is not living on its knees.”

Lang said “We live in a day of theological ambiguity, of denominational uncertainty and of ecclesiastical polarity. All I Know is I want to be pushing one name—Jesus Christ—and only one Book.”

Walter Wilson, pastor of Lawton, Friendship, reminded those present that one of the problems with change is it’s always met with opposition by mumblers and grumblers.

“You can’t please God and man at the same time,” he proclaimed, “but, when God is in the building, it doesn’t really matter, because when God speaks, things change!

“If God doesn’t change it, the change won’t last. The more you pray, the more God makes a way.”

Referencing the mumblers and grumblers among the Israelites fleeing from Egypt as they neared the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh approaching from behind, Wilson, said, “There were some Egyptians among the Children of God; they wanted to go back where they came from.

“Opposition will come when you’ve got too many Egyptians in the church. They’re going to say, ‘we’ve never done it this way.’

“But, when we stop trying to save humanity, we might as well shut the doors!”

Also giving testimonies were Jimmy Reed, pastor of Choctaw, Church on the Way, a new work, and Carlos Caceras, Hispanic pastor at Norman, Emanuel.

In a short business session, Joe Ligon, pastor of Marlow, First, was elected first vice president, and Scott Watkins, pastor of Terlton, First, was elected second vice president of the Pastors’ Conference, both unopposed. Floyd McKee, pastor, Oklahoma City, Rancho Village, will serve as president next year after service as president elect this year.