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Church Refreshed 2024: Straightforward teaching from the book of James

Steven Splawn, senior pastor of First Northeast Baptist Church in Columbia (Photo by Noah Allard)

Church Refreshed 2024: Straightforward teaching from the book of James

Church Refreshed 2024: Straightforward teaching from the book of James

Steven Splawn, senior pastor of First Northeast Baptist Church in Columbia (Photo by Noah Allard)

February 1, 2024

By Bob Holmes

As Pastor Hugh Ward exited ϲʹ’s 2024 Church Refreshed Conference, he reflected on the five post-pandemic messages he heard from conference speakers who each taught a chapter from the Bible’s book of James.

Ward, the pastor of East Columbia Pentecostal Holiness Church resonated with the connection between faith and works in the second chapter of James.

Even sofaith, if it has no works, is dead,beingby itself. (James 2:17)

“There is a profession of faith, but a lot of people are not living out their faith, and that’s one of the things I think that most churches have sensed,” Ward noted pointing to a decline in church attendance at many churches after the pandemic. “(The speakers) were on target with that message. Our faith should demonstrate itself. We should walk in our faith.”

Among those speakers at the annual conference hosted by the ϲʹ Seminary & School of Counseling, was Dr. Derek Thomas, the recently retired senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia.

“If you say you have faith, but have no lifestyle to go with that faith, it’s not true faith,” Thomas said from the stage of Shortess Chapel. “It’s easy believism. That’s what James is talking about here. Somebody who walks to the front, meets with an evangelist, signs a piece of paper (and) the evangelist gives him assurance, ‘once saved, always saved.’ And then they live like the devil.”

Other speakers discussed the practical out workings of true faith. As Church Refreshed included ϲʹ’s regularly scheduled Chapel hour, ϲʹ Interim President Dr. Rick Christman discussed the untamable tongue in James 3 with a demonstration. He called two ϲʹ students on stage and squeezed the contents of a tube of toothpaste into the hands of one student and asked the other to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

“That’s the actions of our words, right?” Christman asked rhetorically. “What I find comes out of my mouth, I try to put back, and you can’t do it.”

Jonathan Leeman, editorial director of 9Marks, a ministry that assists church leaders, cautioned against differences in political views that bring disunity among believers. He noted that there are issues such as abortion and marriage that the Bible speaks clearly about. But in other matters we should engage each other in love.

“Jesus did not design our churches to be a national, or ethnic or partisan or political or class gathering,” Leeman said. “Rather He designed it to be a gathering of His followers from every tribe, tongue and nation.”

There were also encouraging words on leadership from Steven Splawn, the senior pastor of First Northeast Baptist Church in Columbia, and a message on how to avoid burnout from ϲʹ alumnus Dr. Quinton Graham, senior pastor of White Chapel Freewill Holiness Church in Johnsonville, South Carolina.

Even though the messages were straightforward challenges, the experience of the day brought refreshment for those in everyday ministry.

Reginald Gaymon, a deacon at Temple Zion Baptist Church, located just down the street from ϲʹ, said he came to Church Refreshed “ready for the Lord to minister to me.”

“Every chance I get, I try to get a word from what He would want me to do — who He would want me to be,” said Gaymon. “As usual, He does not disappoint, stepping on my toes left and right. I need the guidance, I need the encouragement, I need the direction that He affords me.”

Dr. David Croteau, dean of the ϲʹ Seminary & School of Counseling,said at the close of the conference that “Scripture is alive."

"It speaks to all of our situations," Croteau continued. "And if we spend more time in the Word, interpreting it, meditating on it, obeying it, we can deal with some of the situations the church is facing.”

Hear from the speakers at Church Refreshed 2024 on at Spotify.

Higher learning. Deeper faith. A Christ-centered community on campus and online.or request information on enrollment at ϲʹ by contacting Admissions at (803) 807-5024 oradmissions@ciu.edu

Dr. Derek Thomas, retired senior minister, Columbia First Presbyterian Church (Photo by Noah Allard)

Dr. Derek Thomas, retired senior minister, Columbia First Presbyterian Church (Photo by Noah Allard)