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Pastor Don's Blog Email dhattaway@tabernaclebaptist.org

Turning a Crisis into a Celebration

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A final message from our former GBC President

 

Georgia Baptists are a diverse people. We serve in churches of various sizes, minister with different methodologies, worship using a variety of musical styles, and reflect a growing number of ethnicities. No wonder we have so many differing opinions on almost every subject. As someone once said, “Put two Baptists in one room and you get three different opinions.” The question is, “How can people who are so different work together to meet a common goal?” As Bible believing Baptists, we should all agree that we can accomplish far more together than we can ever achieve apart. One practical way we demonstrate this unity is through the Cooperative Program.

 

Growing up in a Georgia Baptist church, graduating from a Georgia Baptist college and a Southern Baptist seminary, and pastoring Georgia Baptist churches have afforded me the opportunity to see the incredible ministries made possible through the Cooperative Program. Serving as the president of the Georgia Baptist Convention for the past two years has reinforced my confidence that this is the most effective financial plan ever used to advance the gospel around the world.

 

I have pastored small, medium, and large congregations. No matter the size of my church, we could never accomplish more independently than we could by partnering together through the Cooperative Program. Nevertheless, Georgia Baptists have watched a downward trend in Cooperative Program giving dropping from 7.84% in 1987 to 3.92% in 2014. This problem is not isolated to Georgia; the downward trend in giving is nationwide. Some good has come from the reduction in financial resources. The state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention have reevaluated their budgets and cut unnecessary expenditures. This process has resulted in more efficient use of Cooperative Program dollars. However, if the downward giving trend is not reversed soon, we run the risk of facing a Great Commission crisis in the near future. We have already heard about the necessity of bringing home between 600 and 800 missionaries from the field. Although I understand the financial reason for this decision, I am ashamed before God that we have failed to sacrificially give enough to keep these missionaries on the front lines.

 

I think we can all agree that it is unacceptable to deny support to any qualified missionary on the basis of financial lack. As the world grows darker, we must commit ourselves to send more missionaries, not less. To avoid the coming Great Commission crisis, we must reverse the downward trend in giving to the Cooperative Program. This will require that we do three things. First, we must continue to look for creative and innovative ways to better use our ministry resources. Second, we, as pastors, have to teach and challenge our congregations to give sacrificially. We are facing this crisis largely due to the fact that on average, Christians give only 3 cents out of every dollar to do God’s work. Third, we must lead our churches to increase giving through the Cooperative Program. When we do these simple but necessary things, we can turn the Great Commission crisis into a Great Commission celebration.

Serving as your president has been one of the highlights of my ministry. I am grateful for all of the prayers and support over the last two years. As we continue to follow the Lord, the future of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board will be bright.

Serving Together,

Don Hattaway

 

 

 

 

 

Where Do We Go from Here?

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Where Do We Go from Here?

A personal message from our GBC President
 

My heart is still overflowing with thanksgiving to God for His blessings on our annual meeting, Revive 2014. God truly moved in our hearts as we prayed, sang, preached, and celebrated what God has done and is going to do throughout our convention.

 

Convention leaders, associational missionaries, pastors and laymen all began praying a year in advance that God would do a new work in our lives. Prayer was also a primary feature during each convention session. God heard our prayers and we felt His sweet presence among us as we cried out before Him. Following our time together, many messengers told me that God had brought revival to their hearts. 

 

Now that the convention is over, the question is, “Where do we go from here?” The answer to this question is twofold. First, spiritual renewal is not a onetime fix. Continuing to cry out to God for renewal is critical. We must humbly walk with Christ each day. When we have a relationship with Him that is vibrant and growing, we will be able to fan the flames of spiritual renewal in our churches and across our convention. Second, we must urgently pray for a spiritual awakening in our nation. An awakening occurs when God’s Spirit moves among nonbelievers and large numbers of them yield their lives to Christ. The last great move of God in America happened around 100 years ago. Will you join me in praying for another great spiritual awakening in our day?      

 

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has written an ebook entitled, “Pleading with Southern Baptists.” This brief book is an excellent resource. I encourage you to read it and begin to pray for a spiritual awakening. You can download a free copy from ronniefloyd.com or pray4awakening.com.

 

Throughout the coming year, my aim is to emphasize spiritual awakening. With this in mind, I have begun to plan for Awaken 2015, our annual convention meeting. This meeting will be held November 9-10, 2015, at Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.

 

In the months ahead, I will be traveling across our state calling Georgia Baptists to cry out to God in confession and repentance. As we continue to experience spiritual renewal, perhaps God will use us to light the way for a spiritual awakening among the 7 million lost people in our state. Please join me in praying for the next great move of God to happen during our lifetime.

 
Crying Out Together,
 
Don Hattaway
Tabernacle Baptist Church
 
 
 
 

Why You Should Attend Revive 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why You Should Attend Revive 2014

A personal message from our GBC President

 

We are only a few weeks away from the 193rd annual meeting of the Georgia Baptist Convention. As we approach this important gathering, I want to make an appeal for you to attend. Dr. Tim McCoy and the congregation at Ingleside Baptist in Macon are hosting the event. We will begin with an inspirational rally Sunday at 6 PM. Dr. Mel Blackaby will be preaching with the incredible worship team from Ingleside leading in worship.

 

Following a dynamic Preaching Conference on Monday afternoon, the convention will convene at 6 PM. Dr. Claude King will be leading us in extended prayer times during each session. Our focus throughout will be spiritual renewal. We are going to cry out to God asking to be revived.

 

The music is going to be tremendous with the Gettys, Freedom Sound and the Jubal Chorus appearing. Among the great preaching, Dr. Bill Elliff, from The Summit Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, will be addressing the need for spiritual renewal among God’s people. As you can see, this is an opportunity to join with church leaders across the state in a unified effort to seek God’s face.

 

I know that life is busy and resources are limited. I also realize that you can watch the convention meeting in your home or office on the computer by live streaming. However, I believe this is one event where you need to be present to get the full impact of the experience.

 

It is true that our convention is made up of approximately 3600 individual churches. However, it is also true that we are one body of believers serving God together. Every person and every church are important to the body as a whole. Bi-vocational pastors, small church pastors, medium church pastors, large church pastors, church planters, associational missionaries, convention leaders, and church members are all needed to do the work of the Lord.

 

Don’t delay. Plan now to attend Revive 2014. You can find out more information by going to www.connectgbc.com.

 
Hope to see you in Macon!
 
Don Hattaway
Tabernacle Baptist Church
 
 
 
 

Do We Really Need a Spiritual Renewal?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A personal message from our GBC President

Throughout this year, I have been urging Georgia Baptists to pray for spiritual renewal in our churches.  During the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Baltimore last month, I was delighted to hear newly elected president, Dr. Ronnie Floyd, clearly state that his priority would be to lead our national convention to pray for spiritual renewal. Surprisingly, a vigorous debate ensued on social media as to whether or not a spiritual renewal is even needed.  Some insisted that the problems within the SBC could be largely eliminated with more effective leadership.  So, the question is, "Who is right?"  I believe the answer is, to some extent, both.

 I agree with those who say that leadership is essential for churches to grow and prosper. Every pastor should look at himself and ask the question, "Am I being effective as a leader, and if not, why not?"  However, growing a healthy church involves more than just leading in the increase of bodies, buildings and budgets.  If effective leadership is only measured by tangible results, then we would have to conclude that Noah was a failure because he only had eight people in the ark after 120 years of preaching.  Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, preached 40 years and was unsuccessful in convincing the nation to turn to God to avert Babylonian captivity.  Paul tried to encourage Timothy not to be discouraged in light of the difficulties of the last days.  He said, "For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new." (II Timothy 4:3).  Even Jesus Himself, the Head of the church, saw the crowds dwindle when he revealed his expectations for discipleship.  At one point, He turned to His own disciples and asked them, "You don't want to go away too, do you?" (John 6:67b).

 Yes, effective leadership in the local church is extremely important, but building a spiritual house requires more than possessing the qualities of a CEO.  I am reminded of what Jesus said to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1–7.  He told them they had left their first love. This church’s deeds were spectacular. Their doctrine was sound.  However, their devotion was stale. The remedy for their spiritual condition was to remember from where they had fallen, repent of their sins and return to God.

 One tweet I read in this debate stated, "Praying for revival equates to blaming God for the condition of your local church."  I must respectfully disagree.  Praying for spiritual renewal begins with confession of our own sins before Holy God and repenting of those sins so that God can refresh us spiritually.

 Georgia Baptists, let us not argue about whether we should pray for renewal or strive for better leadership. The reality is we must do both.

 Seeking His Face,

  Don Hattaway

Tabernacle Baptist, Cartersville

 

 

 

Praying For Spiritual Renewal

Friday, June 20, 2014
Praying for Spiritual Renewal
A personal message from our GBC President
 
 

As Jesus entered the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion, He asked His disciples to watch and pray. He went to the interior of the garden and poured out His heart to the Father. When He returned, He found His disciples were asleep. Even after He awakened them and renewed His appeal for them to pray so they would not enter into temptation, again they fell asleep. Upon His final return, once more, He found them sleeping. When Jesus needed His disciples the most, they were of little help because they were asleep.

 

This story illustrates the problem we have in the Church today. We are spiritually asleep when we should be watching and praying. Throughout the Scriptures we are told to pray. Even so, prayer is the most difficult of all the spiritual disciplines because it requires humility and self-control. I am convinced that the spiritual weakness in the Church today is first and foremost because of a lack of prayer.

 

As the prophet Isaiah discovered when he went to the temple to pray after the death of King Uzziah, prayer enables us to see who we are in light of God’s holiness. Like Isaiah, genuine prayer should cause us to address the sin in our lives and enable us to effectively fulfill His missionary call.

 

Throughout the state, I am finding a growing number of people who are realizing the need to cry out to God in prayer. Perhaps we are beginning to realize that our programs and plans are pointless apart from the power of God. Recently, I met with associational missionaries who are developing a prayer network across Georgia. They will be connecting monthly to pray for a spiritual renewal in our convention. Also, they will be encouraging pastors in their associations to partner with other pastors for the purpose of praying for spiritual renewal.

 

My vision is for a grassroots prayer movement to grow throughout Georgia. I want to encourage all Georgia Baptists to connect with a prayer network and regularly cry out to God for spiritual renewal. This momentum of prayer will usher Georgia Baptists into Revive2014, our annual meeting to be held at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon. The focus of Revive2014 will be to cry out to God for a spiritual renewal in our convention.

 

Considering the over 7 million lost people in Georgia and the spiritual apathy in many of our churches, we must awake from our spiritual sleep. Just like Jesus’ disciples in the garden, we need to watch and pray because we are in a spiritual battle.

 

Please join me and others as we pray for God to send a spiritual renewal throughout the Georgia Baptist Convention.

 
Praying for Renewal,

Don Hattaway, Tabernacle Baptist, Cartersville