“We pray that you are set on fire for Jesus today just like the first time you met Him. Today, we start together again. And together, we advance.”
This was the prayer and the purpose of IMPACT 2021: to inspire leaders to advance their efforts in fulfilling the Great Commission. Each year, IMPACT gathers pastors from across the state for a day of encouragement and inspiration.
The theme of the Feb. 18 meeting was “Together,” with a focus on the health of marriages, health of families, and spiritual health. Among other topics, breakout sessions discussed setting boundaries in the life of a pastor, having a dream marriage in the midst of ministry, mission acceleration in times of crisis, and abiding in the Lord.
In answering why this topic was so important, Lee Clamp, chief strategic officer of the SCBC, said, “If a pastor is unhealthy in his marriage and personal life with God, his church will stall in advancing.”
Gary Hollingsworth reminded attendees that “being a leader does not mean we are not needy. Every minister needs a minister, and every pastor needs a pastor.”
With pastors and their families constantly giving of themselves and their time, the prayer of the day was that they would be encouraged, ministered to, and served themselves.
Beau Bradberry of Willow Ridge Baptist Church said that IMPACT is “a wonderful time for the convention to invest in those of us on the front lines of our churches.” Like many other pastors, Bradberry brought other members of his church staff because “it is a wonderful gift to tell them to use this time at IMPACT to get poured into and to see what God can do in their lives through this day.”
Echoing Bradberry’s statement, David Bennett of Lake Murray Baptist Church said that he comes to IMPACT each year because “sharing what God is doing in our ministries across our state encourages pastors to continue on and to be spurred on to greater gospel advancement.”
Andre Rogers of Concord Fellowship Baptist Church said that IMPACT “feels like a kingdom family reunion. We are encouraged to keep on keeping on as we journey toward heaven, taking as many people with us as we can.”
Pastor Crawford Loritts spoke during the first session. Regarding this past year, he said that “we’re going to look back over this time as one of the most fruitful times in our lives and in our ministry — not because of anything we did, but in terms of what God did.”
Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle joined the group virtually and urged pastors to return to their first calling of being “with” Jesus.
Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership for the North American Mission Board, encouraged pastors in the area of spiritual renewal. He called on God to “help us want when we’re finishing our work what we wanted when we started it.”
In the past year, the pandemic has brought many challenges to pastors’ mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health. Despite these challenges, the pastors continue to look forward to a day when every life is saturated and transformed by the hope of the gospel.
In closing the event, Lee Clamp said that “if we’re going to reach the 3.6 million lost people in South Carolina, we’re going to have to work together and advance together. We hope that IMPACT 2021 was a day to advance this calling in the lives of all who attended.”
— Chelsea Burgher is digital content coordinator at the South Carolina Baptist Convention.