James Gailliard, senior pastor of Word Tabernacle Church, Rocky Mount, N.C., brought the message on Monday and Tuesday evenings of the Black Church Week event.
"Transformation comes by making daily adjustments that make you look more like Jesus," said Gailliard, pastor of Word Tabernacle Church in Rocky Mount, N.C.
Gailliard was one of the evening preachers at the Black Church Leadership and Family Conference at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center, which drew more than 1,000 participants to North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains.
In every sermon at Word Tabernacle, Gailliard asks the congregation to find at least one thing they are willing to change about themselves to draw them closer to the goal of becoming like Jesus.
"Real church forces change," he said. "Always."
Gailliard said he constantly challenges the status quo. "It's just too easy to sit back and take it [God's message] in without letting it out. Too many of us brag on what we learn when we spend time in the Word instead of letting it be about self-assessment.
"You get closer to God, not just because you read the Word, but when you get challenged by it and make those daily adjustments," he said.
SENSING GOD'S VISION
Being willing to adjust has consistently been part of his church planting ministry through the years. As a church planter in Philadelphia in 2003, he sensed God giving him a vision for starting a church in Africa.
"I was willing, but I'd never been to Africa. I didn't even know anyone in Africa to call about it," Gailliard said. Even so, the idea intrigued him and didn't go away.
"One day I was sitting in my office and my phone rang," he said. "It was Johnny Hunt [pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga.] and he asked me to go with him and a group of pastors to South Africa to start churches."
What made Gailliard certain this was God's divine planning was he didn't know Hunt and Hunt didn't know him. The only connection was that Hunt had read about Gailliard being named one of the North American Mission Board's church planters of the year.
"I couldn't believe it," Gailliard remembered with a laugh. "I guess if God wanted me to plant a church in Africa, He could make it happen and use Johnny Hunt to do it."
Gailliard's ministry as a church planter has led to him being involved in starting 24 churches in the U.S. and abroad.
"I love planting new churches," he said. "I can't believe God has let me be a part of that."
In 2005, Gailliard went to Rocky Mount, N.C., for a church planting training event and sensed God telling him it was a place of opportunity. Word Tabernacle opened its doors there in 2006 with 14 people in attendance. Today, it has about 1,800 members. Its growth is somewhat atypical, Gailliard said.
"About 55 percent of our members have been baptized there," he said. "We have communion and baptism every Sunday afternoon. We haven't missed a Sunday baptizing since that first Sunday."
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Source: Baptist Press | Polly House
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