NEOSHO- When Alan Brock first participated in the “Experiencing God” discipleship study, he said it shifted his focus from “me” to “God and His Activity.” He was pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church, Neosho, and he led five groups throughout the study in the early 1990s. He and his groups discovered that God is at work all around them and invited them to be part of His work. Brock is now the missions director of the Shoal Creek Baptist Association in Neosho (located in the southwestern region of Missouri).
Several Missouri Baptists spoke with The path to tell stories of how God used the discipleship study by Henry Blackaby and Claude King titled “Experiencing God” to bring them into places of service. This discipleship resource is now relaunched with updated content from LifeWay Christian Resources as they celebrate the 30th anniversary of its release.
Brad Bennett, director of Making Disciples at the Missouri Baptist Convention, said he was at Pythian Ave. Baptist Church in Springfield in 1994. He went through study as a young man and was not really fully submitted to the lordship of Christ. “I didn’t understand what it meant to me to give everything back to God,” he said.
He said he hadn’t been very much of a disciple at the time and that the discipline of “experiencing God” study “woke me up to surrender to the Lord”.
He was then asked to lead the study in another study group, and during this time the Lord used the teachings to call him to vocation ministry. Bennett said he used it there in Springfield and again at First Baptist Church in Salem, where he was a youth pastor.
He said, “I encourage Missouri Baptists to seek out where God is working and join with Him.”
Trent Young was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he was a member of Southcliff Baptist Church, Fort. Worth, Texas. He took the course and said, “It was a defining study in my life.” He shared that he was challenged to join God where he is at work. He chose to say “yes” to God.
Young was involved in Baptist Student Union ministries, and he felt that God was calling him to be a pastor, but was unsure of his abilities in this area of ministry. But, he says, God helped him do this for 20 years before he and his wife recently moved to Bland, where he became the missions director of the Gasconade Valley Baptist Association. He and his wife Dana love serving pastors and wives, and they find fulfillment there.
Another missions director, Bob Curtis, of the Mineral Area Baptist Association and also a campus minister of the Mineral Area Community College Baptist Student Union, said the study helped students understand how God worked. He said, “When you encounter a crisis of belief in your life, you are at a crossroads. Either you trust God and His Word, or you let circumstances define your goal.
Curtis added that taking the discipleship course caused him to examine many “spiritual markers” that God used in his life to draw him into this loving relationship with the Lord. Marriage, call to ministry, and key life events have all shaped him to who he is and where he is at this place in time. He said these markers “are an encouragement for times when we are a little discouraged in ministry.”
Alan Brock said he followed the Lord’s leading when he enrolled in seminary at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “I was wondering how to take care of my family (financially). He said the Lord met that need as his wife, Janet, was able to find employment with the United States Postal Service, providing an adequate income for the family. Later he was called to become missions director of the Linn-Livingston Baptist Association at Meadville, and again his wife was able to be employed at the Chillicothe post office, before being promoted to postmaster.
Brock is currently pursuing a doctorate in theology and completing his dissertation. In doing so, he was able to offer theological training courses to bivocational pastors from the Linn-Livingston Fellowship as well as the Shoal Creek Fellowship. He credits God with opening the doors for this to happen.
As Henry Blackaby said in the introduction to this resource, “God Himself prompts you to desire to be a faithful servant. Yet God has more in store for your life than just doing something for Him. He wants you to experience an intimate loving relationship with Him that is real and personal.”
Many Baptists in Missouri have found that the journey they take takes them to places they never thought they would go. They say “join God and his work” and know and do the will of God.