SEND Conference challenges intergenerational crowd to make missions more than an event

FRISCO—Among the 416 Texans engaged in missions training at the SEND 2017 Conference in Frisco was a healthy mix of teenagers whose middle-aged parents and church leaders were anxious to pay forward their passion for global evangelism. 

John Herring of nearby First Baptist Church of Prosper, said the conference spoke as much to his own teenage children as it did to him as a pastor. His two kids were among the 20 members he brought with him, including deacons, ministry leaders, elders and Sunday School teachers.

“The content for me spoke to something that happens in churches—especially for me in my context,” Herring said, referring to a small church’s susceptibility to mission creep. “In the midst of ministry and all the things we think we need to do, keeping your focus on the main thing shouldn’t be a challenge,” he said, adding, “We know what Jesus told us to do.”

Through the SEND conference Herring said he came away not only inspired but equipped for the mission. “The plenary sessions were great, but the breakout sessions were really where I got the tools that I needed as a pastor and a father and a member of my community to do what we’re called to do—to make much of Jesus.”

Southern Baptist entity leaders David Platt of the International Mission Board and Kevin Ezell of the North American Mission Board presented the arena crowd of more than 4,000 registrants a biblical mandate to spend their lives making disciples in their neighborhoods and nations around the world.

Sixteen-year old Aliza White of Newark was introduced to a missional mindset while being discipled at the Exchange Church in Keller, an SBTC church plant where Tiffany Smith was asked to be her mentor. Smith, a national mobilizer for NAMB, often asks teenagers to join her at missions training across Texas when it is offered by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and most recently the SEND Conference that NAMB jointly sponsored with IMB.

Attending along with two other teenagers Smith enlisted, White told the TEXAN, “It was truly an amazing, spiritual experience. It challenged me to constantly be on mission and to give my time, treasures, and talents to God for his glory and for the advancement of his kingdom.”

Jennifer Grisham of Providence Church in Frisco said she had been thinking and praying about how God would use her in missions wherever she is. “I’m just being hopeful and expectant about all God has for me as I go through life because missions isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle.”

Describing First Baptist Church of Fannett where he pastors as a very mission-minded congregation, Robert Wenner and his wife, Liz, brought three teenagers to the conference.

“Over the years we have done a commendable job of learning and supporting missions both at home and abroad,” Wenner said. “For us, SEND is an enormous wakeup call to the opportunity and responsibility to not only pray and give, but to go.”

As one of 24 people who attended the conference from First Baptist Church of Wylie, Debra Tabolka was in on the transition her church made by hiring a mission pastor and sending teams out to serve around the world. With over a third of the membership participating in 18 mission trips this year, Tabolka said that priority was reaffirmed to her as she heard Platt share that “this is what the church is called to do.”

“We are listening and keeping the focus, waiting on the next step,” she told the TEXAN. “The weekend was amazing.”                                  

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