Southwest Florida Conference brings people from across the nation
IMMOKALEE–With a burning desire to equip believers on how to share the gospel and reach their neighbor and the nations for Christ, a Florida Baptist church launched a Great Commission Weekend (GCW) to take place every February.
“We wanted to champion and support the Challenge 2025 mission of Tommy Green, the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention,” said Timothy Pigg, pastor of Fellowship Church and host of the weekend conference. “We want our church to play a vital role in this crucial challenge laid out before us by the convention.”
The church, with campuses in Ave Maria and Immokalee, launched this three-day conference in February 2020, just weeks before the global pandemic took place. Now in its second year, the conference brought speakers and attendees from across the nation to the sunshine state. From Texas to Vermont, attendees were equipped and encouraged to take the good news of the gospel to every man, woman, and child.
“Every single one of our guest speakers are text-driven and gospel-centered preachers,” said Pigg.
The speaker lineup included: Mark Ballard, President of Northeastern Baptist College and author of Words Matter: What is the Gospel?; Dr. Paige Patterson; Scott Colter; Dean Nichols, pastor in Texas; and David Gold, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church.
Using Matthew 28:16-20 and the Great Commission as the conference text, speakers were challenged to teach on the power and authority of Christ and our obligation and command to make disciples.
“The future of our country and the future of our churches is one-hundred percent based on us getting back to soul-winning,” said Patterson.
Kicking off the GCW, Nichols and Patterson reminded attendees that because of God’s authority and power He is victorious over sin and death. Patterson challenged those in the crowd to pray a simple, three-part “Soul-Winner’s Prayer” each day that includes praying for God to give them an opportunity to share the gospel each day, recognize the opportunity when it is afforded to them, and to have the boldness to act on that opportunity. Convinced that this prayer will help them become a more “faithful witness” for Christ, over 200 people committed to praying the prayer daily.
Pigg challenged those in attendance to “champion the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture” and to align their lives with the Word of God. Whether in the home, parenting, church, counseling, or health, Pigg urged those in the room to believe that the “Bible is sufficient for understanding all things pertaining to life and godliness,” he said.
“What’s the difference between the theological liberal who says they believe in the Bible and never lives it and the church member who says they believe in the Bible and doesn’t live it?” Pigg asked. “We have to be people of the Book.”
The Sunday morning session was nothing short of a beautiful, gospel picture of Revelation 7:9. From the celebration of baptisms to worship and preaching, the entire service was a combined, multilingual Creole and English-speaking service. Referencing Matthew 16:19, Colter reminded attendees that “Jesus has given every believer the keys to set prisoners free,” he said.
“What are you doing with the keys that God has given you?” Colter asked. “The Great Commission is the plan A, there is no plan B. If we stay silent, no one else will do it.”
In closing out the weekend, Gold challenged believers to examine their motivation for making disciples. “Making disciples should never be about us,” he said. “We should make disciples because He is worthy of our worship.” He encouraged attendees to evaluate their time, thinking, treasures, and what they talk about most. “If you are trusting in anything but Jesus, it’s a waste.”
The over 200 people in attendance left Sunday night equipped and encouraged to go boldly in the command to “go therefore and make disciples of all nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
“It’s been such a great weekend getting to be around and learn from great preachers,” said Klayton Carson, pastor traveling from Texas for the conference. “This weekend was awesome.”
The third-annual Great Commission Weekend will take place on February 25-27, 2022 at Fellowship Church (www.fellowshipchurch.co/gcw).