Hunt’s “Leading for Change” teams with NAMB’s “Experience” tour 

By Tobin Perry 

Leading for Change
Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., is leading a series of Leading for Change labs in conjunction with the Send North America Experience tour stops. Hunt will be in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 7 to lead a session prior to the tour stop gathering in that city. NAMB file photo by John Swain

ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Josh Hayes can recount a variety of takeaways from a Sept. 18 church revitalization conference in Little Rock, Ark., led by Johnny Hunt—from reminders that ministry is a “people business” to the importance of equipping your congregation for the work of ministry. Yet one particular takeaway was a ministry-changer.

Hayes, the children’s pastor at Grace Community Church in Marion, N.C., has felt the Lord lead him in recent years toward becoming a lead pastor, a call that has brought with it a collection of new fears. At the North American Mission Board conference God used Hunt to calm those fears.

Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., told the audience he had quit high school early because he had to do a public book report. He then said that God could turn their greatest weakness—as Hunt’s fear of public speaking had been—into strength “for the glory of God.”

“My eyes were just burning with tears,” Hayes said. “They were those hot tears. It was a strong, humble moment where God was just infusing me with strength. I looked over to the corner of the room and just started saying to God, ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid of everything–from meeting new people to leading the Lord’s Supper at a church. I’m afraid of dealing with difficult deacons. I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of a church chewing my family up. It was like God just whispered, ‘I know. I know. I know.’ I went up and told Johnny I drove 10 and a half hours just to hear you say that.”

Now a new Leading for Change lab written by Hunt and sponsored by NAMB will focus on helping pastors and other church leaders through this type of personal leadership development and revitalization. Content is built around the conviction that refreshed and growing churches are led by refreshed pastors. The first will take place prior to NAMB’s Send North America Experience tour stop in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 7. The workshop is being called a “lab” because it includes times of hands-on application when participants start developing their plans.

 “I hope there will be a renewed belief, interest, involvement and dreaming once again among our churches that have been around for some time that they can once again know new life,” said Hunt (@johnnymhunt).

Hunt notes that while there has been a renewed interest in church planting within Southern Baptist life in recent years, he has also seen a growing interest in revitalizing struggling churches. Hunt hopes the lab will help spur on that trend even more.

Chris Emery, NAMB’s director of church revitalization, said the lab material came out of NAMB’s partnership with Hunt and First Baptist Woodstock and revitalization conferences held over the past two years.

“I asked him one day,” Emery said, “‘Pastor Johnny, how do you have the energy?’ He basically said that God had given him a second wind.”

Emery says he had heard Hunt say over and over again that you can’t have a revitalized church without a revitalized pastor. Hunt and Emery then began exploring topics for a future lab that would focus more on the pastor and his leadership team than the church itself.  

“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” Hunt said. “If a church is going to be revitalized, it must start with the leader. If the leader doesn’t believe in his dream and his vision for revitalization, he will never sell the people.”

The lab will take place from 1-5 p.m. before the main Send North America Experience tour event in the evening of Oct. 7. A Multiplying Urban Leaders with the gospel lab with the Rebuild Network and a LoveLoud lab will also take place that afternoon in Kansas City.

The Send North America Experience tour is a gathering for the church that challenges all believers to “leverage their lives in a way that counts for the kingdom.” The tour is visiting cities throughout North America in 2014 and 2015 leading up to the Send North America Conference Aug. 3-4, 2015, in Nashville.

For more information—including dates, speakers, musicians and more—concerning the labs, the Send North America Experience tour, the Send North America Conference and more, visit

Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board. 

Date Created: 9/22/2014 2:26:06 PM

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