Southern Baptist Convention leaders nationwide deplore the declining number of baptisms.
RUSTON – Southern Baptist Convention leaders nationwide deplore the declining number of baptisms.
In 2006, the last year for which complete statistics are available, 364,826 people were baptized, down 7,024 from the previous year. In Louisiana, 10,240 people were baptized in 2006, down from12,668 in the previous year. In 2007, 10,095 people were baptized.
Louisiana Baptist leaders have come up with a plan to turn the numbers around.
It’s a plan that focuses on people, not statistics.
To implement the plan, the LBC Evangelism/Church Growth team has made “The Power of One” the theme for the 2009 Louisiana Evangelism Conference.
“It’s difficult for some people to get a handle around a big evangelistic goal,” said Wayne Jenkins, evangelism/church growth director. “This is not to say people don’t need goals. All we’re saying is, if you will focus on one person – one person empowered by the Holy Spirit can impact another person’s life for eternity.
“That’s what we’re trying to stress overall with this year’s evangelism conference,” Jenkins continued. “The speakers and conferences will give emphasis to this.”
The workshops take place during the Tuesday afternoon session of the 2009 Evangelism Conference, set for Jan. 26-27 at Temple Baptist Church in Ruston.
The Evangelism Conference opens at 1:15 p.m. Monday, Jan. 26, with Gonzalo Rodriguez, Nashaat Ibrahim, John Sullivan and E.W. McCall speaking.
Rodriguez is pastor of the strong, vibrant and fast-growing Good Shepherd Baptist Hispanic Church in New Orleans; Ibrahim, a national missionary with the SBC’s North American Mission Board; Sullivan is executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention; McCall is the recently-retired pastor of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in La Puente, Calif., which he grew from a garage-size group to more than 2,000 in Sunday morning worship in an east Los Angeles suburb.
Session two starts at 6:15 p.m., with Fred Lowery and Herb Reavis as speakers. Lowery is pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City; Reavis, pastor of North Jacksonville Baptist in Florida.
Tuesday’s morning session starts at 8:30 a.m., with David Hankins, Charles Thornton and Herb Reavis speaking. Hankins is executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention; Thornton, vice president of partnerships with a Christian non-profit in Texas that builds a sense of community among apartment-dwellers.
David Francis, director of Sunday School for LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., is to speak Tuesday afternoon, before the break-out sessions.
The dozen break-out sessions include:
Connect to the Third Power: The Power of One Sunday School Class, led by David Francis of LifeWay’s Sunday School.
Student Leadership, led by Evangelist Jay Strack, founder and president of Student Leadership University in Florida.
Children, Families and Conversion, led by Thomas Sanders, director of childhood ministry at Dallas (Texas) Baptist University.
One on One: Evangelism Made Simple, led by Keith Manuel, LBC evangelism associate who in 2008 developed the easy-evangelism method.
Evangelism Response Center – ERC – Encourager Training, led by Toby Frost, executive pastor at First Baptist West Monroe, and formerly with the SBC’s North American Mission Board as senior director of direct evangelism and manager of event evangelism.
Making Disciples: A Visionary Plan for Smaller Membership Churches, led by Don Cass, evangelism director with the Southern Baptists of Texas state convention.
Stopping the Exodus: Leading the Church to Reach Young Adults, led by Michael Kelly, editor of “Threads,” a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville.
Apartment Life, led by Charles Thornton, vice president of partnerships with a Christian non-profit organization that works through Care Teams to build community among apartment residents.
Islam, led by Nashaat Ibrahim, a national missionary with NAMB.
Empowering Kingdom Growth, led by Beau Colle, LBC executive assistant to the executive director.
Getting Connected, led by Wayne Shepherd, LBC partnership mobilization strategist.
Being Guest Friendly, led by Scotty Sanders, Founder and CEO of Lifecatalyst – Bridge the Gap.
Longtime youth evangelist Jay Strack is to speak during the 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, session. At each of the sessions, worship is to be led by Ray Jones and the praise team from Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas.
“The purpose of this year’s Evangelism Conference in general excites me,” Jenkins said. “If we could get our people thinking, ‘I am responsible for one person. I want to build a relationship with them, pray for them, invest in them, share my story with them, and invite them to church with me,’ that would transform our churches.
“It stands to reason that if everybody caught the vision behind The Power of One, your church would double,” Jenkins continued, “but whether it doubles or not, if we can in some way help people become part of the process, we’re going to see far more people won to a living, vibrant faith in Christ than we’d otherwise see.”