SARASOTA — The smell of coffee, gracious hospitality and answers to tough questions filled the worship center of Sarasota Baptist Church as more than 200 people gathered Thursday, March 5 for southwest Florida’s Sharper! Ministry Conference.
The Sharper! conferences, held across the Sunshine State, are designed to renew, equip and challenge those in attendance to remain sharper in their various ministry assignments.
Sarasota Baptist Church hosted this year’s conference for the southwest region in collaboration with the Florida Baptist Convention.
“Our church has always been passionate about reaching people, and we are thrilled that we could host this year’s Sharper! conference,” said Mike Landry, Sarasota Baptist’s senior pastor.
As troubling times and treacherous waters seep more and more into the marketplace, universities, home and local church, the need for apologetics is a growing concern for Christians to combat the lies they are inundated with daily, according to Landry, who made apologetics the driving theme of the Sarasota Sharper! conference.
“God has raised up many people that are answering the tough questions,” he said. “We hope you leave with a greater understanding of how you can use apologetics to further the Kingdom.”
Included in the all-star speaker lineup for the conference were Gary Bates, CEO of Creation Ministries International(CMI) US office; Jonathan Sarfati, senior scientist and speaker for CMI; Clayton Brumby, author and teacher; and Richard Tompkins, founder and president of Explore Truth Ministries.
In the main session, Bates began the conference by laying a framework for apologetics and challenging those in attendance to hold a biblical worldview. He explained that everyone has a worldview, a lens by which the world is understood and interpreted, which also impacts how one views and interprets Scripture, God and the church.
“The reason our ministry exists is to equip and teach the church how to defend their faith and know how to share that defense with others,” said Bates.
Tackling the question, “Is Genesis a Literal History?,” Sarfati challenged attendees to do as the Bereans did in Acts 17:11 and search the scriptures daily to determine the veracity of the apostles.
“What Jesus says makes sense if you have a straight-forward understanding of the Bible,” he said.
Quoting Mike Adams, columnist for TownHall media, Bates said, “If Christianity dies in America it will not be for a lack of evidence of its truthfulness. It will be for a lack of dissemination of the evidence of its truthfulness.”
Sharper! attendees left with a defense for their faith, answers to their questions and encouragement to keep running the race set before them.