[SLIDESHOW=39039]NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Three Southern Baptist leaders, in a “Prayer Summit for Spiritual Awakening” at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged pastors-in-training to seek a fresh movement of God and lead their congregations to experience the same.

Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, opened the prayer summit in New Orleans Seminary’s Leavell Chapel, preaching from Isaiah 63-64.

“In the book of Isaiah, there was a situation in chapters 63 and 64 much like what we see in our culture today,” Floyd said. “People are realizing ‘we can’t fix ourselves.'”

In Isaiah’s time, Floyd said, the people had wandered from God much like the American church has wandered from God. In his day, Isaiah called the nation to a great awakening, a return to God. The United States, he said, needs the same today.

“The number one need in America today is the church of Jesus Christ to wake up and experience a mighty manifestation of the Holy Spirit of God,” Floyd said.

As SBC president, Floyd is leading a Join the Movement call to prayer, urging people to join in prayer for a great awakening in America and for the effort to reach the world for Christ as well as a commitment by Southern Baptists to gather in Columbus, Ohio, for the annual convention meeting there, June 16-17, 2015.

After the Oct. 30 chapel hour at NOBTS, Floyd teamed up with local pastor and former SBC president Fred Luter and the current president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Lafayette pastor Steve Horn, for a question-and-answer luncheon and time of guided prayer with NOBTS students along with faculty and staff and people from the surrounding community.

NOBTS President Chuck Kelley, who emceed the luncheon, asked Floyd, Luter and Horn to describe three steps or places to start in seeking to experience an awakening or new work of God in their ministry setting.

Luter answered first, focusing on the issue of faithfulness.

“Number one, be faithful to God,” Luter said. “God called you. Your mama didn’t call you. Your daddy didn’t call you. Your mama didn’t, daddy didn’t, your friends didn’t. Be faithful to God.”

Hard times and difficult situations and temptations can lead pastors to consider leaving ministry, Luter said.

“But if God has called you, you’re not going anywhere,” he said.

Second, Luter said to be faithful to family.

“I cannot stress this enough. Never put the church before your family,” he said. “I would not be where I am today if it had not been for the prayers and support of the love of my life, the apple of my eye, my prime rib, my good thing, my wife, Elizabeth.

“When I was going through that really tough time following Hurricane Katrina, she was the one who prayed for me, that encouraged me, that said, ‘Baby, we’re going to get through this thing,'” he recounted.

Third, Luter said to be faithful “to the church you’re serving.”

“Don’t go to a church with a resume in your back pocket, with the understanding of ‘I’m just going to put this church on my resume before I go on to something bigger and better,'” he said.

Luter said when he went to Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in the late 1980s the church had 50 members and he was paid $150 a week. But he was faithful to where God had called him; nearly 30 years later, Franklin Avenue is a thriving community of faith. Luter said when he reflects on his ministry thus far, which includes pastoring one of the largest churches in Louisiana and serving two years as president of the Convention, it all has hinged on faithfulness.

“I contribute it to one thing: faithfulness. I’ve been faithful to God, faithful to my family, faithful to my church,” he said.

During a short Q&A time, one member of the audience asked Luter how he is able to personally identify God’s will for his life.

“Very, very easy question. I ask my wife,” Luter said to roaring applause.

Luter explained: “Deacons will tell you what you want to hear. Church leaders will tell you what you want to hear. But your wife — or for those who are single, an accountability partner — should be able to look you in the eyes and tell you the truth.”

Horn, then, offered three ideas for where ministers can start in seeking a fresh work of God in their churches.

“I’m going to use that word ‘start.’ You’ve got to start where you are,” Horn said.

Horn told about how, when he went to First Baptist Lafayette, he was careful not to implement too much in that first year. He said he used a football analogy with church leaders.

“I said, ‘We’re gonna run it up the middle. And after we’ve run it up the middle for about a year, we’re gonna throw one deep,'” he recalled.

Secondly, Horn said ministers should model what they want their churches to do. If it’s fasting, lead by example. If it’s evangelism, take the lead on that.

“We can’t ask our folks to do something we’re not willing to do,” he said.

Third, Horn recommended teaching some form of evangelism strategy. At his church, members are trained in the FAITH strategy.

“It doesn’t have to be FAITH, but I would teach some form of evangelism strategy to help people learn how to share their faith,” Horn said.

Floyd closed the Q&A time, noting the starting points from an e-book he’s about to release to Southern Baptists on the same subject.

“If I want a fresh work of God, think about these words: sunset, sunrise. Challenge your people to, either at sunset on Saturday or sunrise on Sunday morning, pray for a mighty anointing of the Holy Spirit upon their pastor, their church and the worship service that day,” Floyd said.

Second, he said he would challenge pastors to take a month between January and May 2015 and preach on the following subjects: repentance, prayer, fasting, revival, awakening and fulfilling the Great Commission.

“Imagine what would happen if only 500 of our churches did that. Just think what would happen if 10,000 of the 40,000 did that,” he said.

Floyd’s third suggestion for pursuing a fresh work of God dealt exclusively with prayer.

“Pick a Sunday morning and turn the Sunday worship service to a total service committed to prayer,” he said. “That would be unique in today’s church. … Praying doesn’t happen in most churches, it really doesn’t.

“You say, ‘Well if I announce a prayer meeting for Sunday morning, no one’s gonna come.’ That’s why you don’t tell them,” Floyd said, to laughter and applause.

Floyd closed the prayer summit with a guided time of prayer. People gathered in small groups to pray for a spiritual awakening in the New Orleans area, in Louisiana and the United States. Floyd guided the crowd to quote Scripture aloud and to verbally pray for the lost around the world by means of quoting the Great Commission passages.

To join the movement, click here or visit RonnieFloyd.com.

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  • Frank Michael McCormack