By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT – The countdown is on for the 2015 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference.
Hosted by Summer Grove Baptist Church on Jan. 26-27, the theme of the event is RESET: a Revitalization Conference. The conference will feature inspiring messages, high-energy music and a servant evangelism project.
Former Southern Baptist Convention First Vice-president and past Florida Baptist Convention President Ted Traylor will preach the first message of the Evangelism Conference.
The pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., Traylor has a weekly radio and television ministry, At the Heart of Things, that reaches thousands of homes along the Gulf Coast region. Each week his messages are broadcast worldwide through the internet.
Traylor has preached extensively throughout the United States in conferences and revivals. Emanuel University in Oradea, Romania has honored Dr. Traylor by placing his name on the chair of Pastoral Leadership. He travels there frequently to preach and teach the Gospel in this area of Europe. Olive Baptist Church has sponsored international mission trips to Moscow, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Egypt, Costa Rica, India, Bahamas and Brazil. Olive is also currently partnering in church plants in Cleveland, Ohio, San Diego, and New York City.
In addition to his sermon on Monday, Traylor also is scheduled to preach on Tuesday morning.
Following Traylor is Gary L. McIntosh, who has 30 years of experience in the field of church consultation, coaching of church leaders and workshop presentations. As president of the Church Growth Network, McIntosh has analyzed more than 1,200 churches representing more than 80 denominations throughout the United States, Canada and Southeast Asia.
His articles have appeared in Global Church Growth, Strategies for Today’s Leaders, Net Results, The Growth Report, Leadership, Church Growth America, Growing Churches, Enrichment, Outreach, REV!, and numerous denominational publications.
McIntosh also serves as professor of Christian ministry and leadership at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, teaching courses in the field of pastoral theology. Listed in “Who’s Who in Church Growth” and “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers,” his educational background and experience as a youth pastor, Christian education director, senior pastor and church consultant give added insight to his writings, seminars and counsel.
He also serves as vice president for the Society for Church Consulting. As a national seminar leader, Gary conducts approximately twenty workshops and seminars yearly on topics, such as, outreach, assimilation, planning, generational change, breaking growth barriers, revitalization of churches, organizing and staffing, and multi-ethnic ministry.
Closing out the Monday afternoon session is LifeWay Research Executive Director Ed Stetzer.
Throughout his career, Stetzer has planted, pastored and revitalized churches. In fact, Stetzer serves as lead pastor of one of the churches he planted in 2011, Grace Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
He also is an author and conference and seminar leader. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, serves as a columnist for Outreach Magazine and has more than 500,000 people see his work in The Gospel Project, where he serves as executive editor. One other publication that utilizes his services is Facts & Trends Magazine, where as executive editor his writing reaches its circulation of 70,000 readers.
Stetzer also is scheduled to preach to open the Tuesday morning session.
Louisiana Baptists will notice a familiar face in the final message of the Monday night session, as well as on Tuesday.
The pastor at First Baptist Spartanburg, SC, Wilton was the keynote speaker during last fall’s E4 Preaching Conference at First Baptist Church Pineville.
Not only is his son, Rob, pastor of Vintage Church in the New Orleans area, but Wilton holds a degree from and once was a professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He also preached a sermon at the 2012 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference in New Orleans.
Wilton is not the only speaker on the program who has ties to Louisiana.
Delhi native and New Orleans Baptist Association Church Health Strategist Leroy Fountain will speak on Tuesday afternoon, preceding the equipping seminars.
Fountain became acquainted with the SBC and Church Planting Group while studying at the Morehouse School of Religion.
In 1983, Fountain was commissioned as a missionary with what is now known as the North American Mission Board, though at the time it was called the Home Mission Board.
According to the NOBA website, Fountain has a vision for “healthy, multiplying churches that would have a transformational impact in the city.”
Fountain has planted Browns Mill Park Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., Central Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and Southlawn Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He also was involved with church revitalization work at Stone Mountain Baptist Association in Conyers, Ga.
Closing out the Evangelism Conference is Ike Reighard.
Since 2007, Reighard has served as senior pastor of Piedmont Church in Marietta, Ga.
When Reighard arrived at Piedmont Church, the church was experiencing a downturn of more than 10 years in all crucial areas of measurement for church survival. Less than 200 adults were attending worship in a building that seats 1,500.
Efforts made in the last eight years have resulted in an attendance of more than 1,000 – the highest average in the 50-year history of the church.
“The key to the turnaround was implementing the principles found in the book of Nehemiah,” Reighard said. “The great thing is that our future is even brighter for Piedmont’s growth.”
Before coming to Piedmont, Reighard was the founding pastor of NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga; lead pastor of the north campus of First Baptist Church of Atlanta, Ga., and senior pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.
During this time of New Hope Baptist, the church was recognized as the second fastest growing church in the SBC.
However, Reighard also has worked in the secular world.
During his time at NorthStar Church and Piedmont Church, he was Chief People Officer of Homebanc Mortgage in Atlanta.
The company was recognized four consecutive years as one of Fortune Magazine’s Best Companies to Work For while he was serving in his role there.
Servant evangelism project
In addition to speakers and Tuesday’s breakout sessions, the conference also will feature a servant evangelism project.
Everyone is encouraged to bring clean coats on hangers to be used for the poor and at risk in the Shreveport-Bossier City area.
Previous ministry projects at Evangelism Conferences were a food drive and prison hygiene bags.
Depending on the response to the coat drive, ministries expected to benefit are the Shreveport Bossier Rescue Mission, the HUB urban ministry and Downtown Outreach Ministry.
John Anderson, who is pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Bossier City which leads the Downtown Outreach Ministry, is excited about how the coats will benefit the area’s less fortunate.
Each Sunday between 60 and 110 individuals worship and receive a meal under a tent in the downtown area.
“We’re all about outreach, reaching the community and people in need,” said Anderson, who also serves as compassion ministry strategist for the Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association.
Leading up to the Evangelism Conference, Summer Grove Baptist Church has set out collection bins available on site for anyone wishing to donate coats. The coat drive is a Louisiana Baptist Convention event hosted at Summer Grove.
For more information on the coat drive, visit http://louisianabaptists.org/servant-evangelism-project-2015/. All coats for adults, youth and children should be clean, on hanger and sizes clearly labeled.