"Pursuing God is not one step in the process, it is EVERY STEP in the process."
We started ReFRESH® in 2003 after the death of Ron Dunn. I had always leaned heavily on Ron during an annual Bible Conference at Sherwood. When he died, I had to go before the Lord and figure out what was next on His agenda…and He birthed in my heart a conference on revival. Having been saved during the days of the Jesus Movement, I have a taste of what revival is supposed to look like. But I also know what promotions, gimmicks, methods, and programs can’t accomplish – they can’t produce Holy Spirit power. They can’t convict of sin. They can’t convince your members to walk in the fullness of the Spirit.
All too often I’ve seen the effects of carnality in the typical church, resulting in pastors who are frustrated and resigned to life at a level lower than God intended. We began ReFRESH® in Albany as a conference for our church. Soon after, we ventured to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where our first event hosted 28 people. I was disappointed and almost cancelled any further conferences, but God told me to give it three years. On the third year, we turned a corner. Since that day, we’ve ministered to hundreds of pastors. Many have walked into the conference ready to resign or leave the ministry. Others have rolled into town on four flat tires and left renewed and encouraged. We’ve seen the altars flooded with tears and hands lifted in praise to the God who hears us when we cry.
As we’ve expanded the conference, we’ve been to Branson, Missouri, twice. Initially, the conference was sponsored and hosted by the Missouri Baptist Convention, and over 700 people broke recent attendance records for their yearly evangelism event. For four years, we were honored to support the International Mission Board’s annual stateside staff retreat in Richmond, Virginia, by hosting a mini ReFRESH® Conference for their team. Those years were blessed of the Lord as we invested in the men and women who serve our missionaries around the world. We’ve also hosted conferences in Las Vegas, Alaska, and New England.
The ReFRESH® team is willing to travel where we are invited and where the Spirit leads. Our desire is to help pastors and lay leaders develop a passion to build praying, Spirit-filled churches.
The worship team from Sherwood, led by Mark Willard, leads the worship sessions for the conference. This team gives of their time because of their heart for revival. On very rare instances we do use other musicians or singers. However, we believe the unique blend of shared experiences and familiarity with the theme and heart of ReFRESH® gives this team a unique perspective. They aren’t just musicians playing familiar worship songs; they are believers who understand the need to cooperate with the flow of the meeting as it unfolds.
The team of men who have spoken at ReFRESH® has worked together for many years. Their hearts beat as one regarding revival and awakening. They are presence driven, not personality driven. Speakers are present during the entire conference and are available throughout the sessions. They come prepared with a few messages, and we follow the Spirit’s leading as the conference progresses. We do not necessarily look for the most well-known, most popular, or most gifted speakers. Rather, we look for men with a life message. We aren’t trying to draw a crowd; we want to take participants to the cross. As this process has proven to be used by God over the past decade, we only use outside speakers on occasion.
I never imagined what God was up to after Ron passed away. I am grateful for all He has initiated and continued to do through ReFRESH®. We long to see a sweeping move of His Spirit across our nation once again, and we’ll keep praying and pressing on to that end!
Senior Pastor | Sherwood Baptist Church