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Hannah Calls Leaders to Desperation

John Hannah, Rice Broocks, and Ted Cunningham challenged and ministered to leaders and lay workers in the concluding service of the 2015 Influence Conference in Orlando.

Challenging leaders to examine themselves and their passion for God, Pastor John Hannah used the example of Elijah losing his passion and Elisha having his passion awakened as he opened the Tuesday morning session of the 2015 Influence Conference.

"Part of me is nervous because we as believers are losing our desperation for Jesus," Hannah said, and then challenged the Influence audience: "Are you still desperate for Him, long for Him, are you hungry for God?"

Hannah, who pastors the 19,000-member New Life Covenant Southeast Assembly of God in Chicago, compared God's questioning of Elijah and his apparent loss of zeal for ministry to Christians today who have lost their passion, also pointing out how when Elijah's cloak went across Elisha's shoulders, it awakened a passion within Elisha.

Hannah explained that Christians today need to have the same awakening through a renewed desperation for God. He said desperation will call believers out of their comfort zone, stretch and increase their endurance, and give them the desire of wanting more of Him.

"I struggle hearing about the olden days," Hannah said. "I believe that I worship the same God. If He healed then, He can heal now; if He delivered then, He can deliver now; and I am going after double that spirit as Elisha did."

Concluding his message with a call to those who felt that they were dying in their passion for God or who wanted more of God, the altar area was flooded with hundreds in an extended time of worship, praise, and prayer.

Rice Broocks, author of the book, God's Not Dead, followed Hannah with a message focused on the power of being great in Christ.

"Greatness is possible -- we are made in God's image!" Broocks stated.

But he wasn't talking about popularity or prestige among peers, Broocks was referring to the greatness of John the Baptist -- that he was great in the eyes of the Lord as he turned people to the Lord.

Broocks, who is co-founder of the Every Nation family of churches that includes more than 1,000 churches in 60 countries, offered five key principles to encourage a culture of evangelism in the local church based on a GREAT acronym: Gospel, Reasons, Evangelists, Approach and Tools.

"Most Christians can't articulate the gospel succinctly . . . we have to understand the gospel," he said, adding that Christians should always be prepared to give a defense for the reason for their faith.

"What's missing in the American church is the ministry of the evangelist," he continued. "The evangelist's primary gift is to equip the saints . . . the very gift that God gave to make the church missional, is missing from the team."

Broocks also urged Christians to take care in how they approach people and to use SALT -- Start a conversation, Ask questions, Listen, Tell the story [of the gospels].

Concluding with a brief mention of powerful tools, such as the Human Right Survey and THEGODTEST app, Broocks added that no matter how powerful the tools, they don't matter if we don't have the heart.

In an often humorous message that also chastised, Ted Cunningham concluded the 2015 Influence Conference with insights on marriage and family.

Cunningham, who founded Woodland Hills Family Church in Branson, Missouri, and whose mentor is Dr. Gary Smalley, said that marriage is an institution to be honored, enjoyed and prioritized in the home and church.

"Silence turns the subject of sex and marriage into something guilt-prone and shame-faced," Cunningham stated. "Don't teach your children sex is something to be ashamed of, instead talk to them!"

Cunningham also called out parents who have enabled prolonged adolescence. Comparing how the transition from childhood to adulthood used to be compacted into a very short time -- in some cases, just weeks -- the permissiveness of parents providing "too much privilege and too little responsibility" has resulted in prolonged adolescence for children that lasts as long as a decade or more.

Encouraging enjoyment of each other while also exposing the myth of compatibility testing being the key to a good marriage, Cunningham said compatibility is something you create over the years by each person adjusting their attitudes and behaviors. However, the problem in many marriages is that couples connect to the limits of each other as their "life source" rather than connecting to God as their life source and then living on the overflow.

Using examples from his family's experiences, Cunningham concluded by sharing keys to giving marriage the respect it deserves within the family.

"One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is go home and have a coronation service and declare your wife as queen," he said, explaining that too often children are made the "center of the universe" and see themselves as such.

"My job is to see that my children become adults," Cunningham said. "Academics and athletics do not raise children into adults, parents do. Children see everything we do, hear everything we say, and repeat."

Cunningham drew to a close by challenging couples to fight for their marriage and families.

"When it comes to the honoring, enjoying, and prioritizing marriage and eradicating prolonged adolescents, will you run or will you fight?" he asked. "Kids don't need to be the center of home, instead you go home and love each other, flirt with each other -- in front of the kids!"


Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.