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SYNC conference creating gospel-centered missional leaders

University Relations

Pete WilsonCollaboration; learning from others; connecting; surrounding yourself with a good team – these were some of the repeating phrases heard at Charleston Southern University’s SYNC ’13 conference.

The annual conference is a joint venture between Charleston Southern and the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

In a question and answer session, Phil Wickham, singer, songwriter and worship leader in San Diego, told how as a shy, middle schooler with a shaved head, glasses and carrying a Narnia book, his youth pastor reached out to him about leading worship. He said a couple of months later when he raised his head up from the chord charts, he looked around and realized kids were worshipping. “I realized I was doing something I loved,” said Wickham.

Wickham learned to play the guitar by hanging out with guys who were more talented than he was. He listened to the wisdom of others, especially to his dad, a worship leader. He encouraged church leaders and parents to give youth opportunities to serve. “My mom would tell me, ‘just remember what a massive responsibility you have – because these are God’s precious people and God has given you 30 minutes of their time to point them to God.’”

Dr. Reggie McNeal, missional leadership specialist for Leadership Network, encouraged attendees to remember they are in the kingdom business, not the church business.

Mark Powers, director of worship and music for the S.C. Baptist Convention, shared his five-fingered approach to leading people the way Jesus did:

  • Meet people at their point of need
  • In their community
  • On a regular basis
  • To build relationships
  • Which will lead to witnessing opportunities

Powers said, “The greatest mission force in the world is sitting in our churches.”

Dr. Rick Brewer, vice president for student affairs and athletics at CSU, said his motivation for creating the conference came from our calling as Christians to impact the world around us. “The church is moving from a noun to a verb,” he said.

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Pete Wilson, pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, cautioned church planters that they need leadership gifts in addition to pastoral gifts. In planting churches, he said he has done some things right and some things wrong. “Figure out who you are and what God has called you to do,” said Wilson. “Learn from others. Beware of emulating others. You are you. Find a community you can love and fit into it.” One of the things he would do differently is delegate sooner. “Find what you are gifted to do and do that well and hand off the other things quickly,” he said.

Dr. Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism and student ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, urged conference attendees to share the unchanging truth in a different way. Christianity, in its essence, he said, is not an institution we maintain; it is a movement we advance. He said, “Whatever your vocation, you are a missionary. What would that look like if we were like that? Christ asks us to be His body to move to the things that matter – be lovers of people.”

Doug Paul, director of content for 3DM, wrapped up the conference by reminding the leaders how the early church became the church of today. Paul said, “The disciples believed Jesus’ words, and we know that because we are here today.” Because the disciples trusted Christ’s teachings and stayed true to His Words, the church prevailed through the centuries.

Other conference speakers were Dr. Sonny Holmes, pastor of Northwood Baptist Church, and Jon Davis, campus minister at CSU and pastor of Summit Church.

The conference was created to teach pastors and lay leaders how to be missional leaders.

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