By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
RUSTON – The Harvest evangelistic initiative, a two-year statewide soul-winning campaign, will kick off officially at the 2017 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference with an outreach effort targeting teens and college students.
The Evangelism Conference also will feature inspiring messages by speakers from Louisiana and beyond, Jan. 23-24, at Temple Baptist Church. Still, the sessions will focus primarily on the Harvest initiative, which aims to enlist at least 700 Louisiana Baptist churches to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in Louisiana.
Scheduled during the first session of the Evangelism Conference, the kickoff will feature a Gospel presentation by Ed Newton, pastor of Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas. Prior to his message, students will gather inside the church family life center for a pizza party and entertainment.
Organizers are encouraging churches around the state to host simultaneous similar events – including the showing of the live Internet broadcast of Newton’s message — to broaden the geographic reach of this initial event.
The remaining sessions of the Evangelism Conference will be broadcast over the Internet as well.
Wayne Jenkins, evangelism and church growth director for Louisiana Baptists, said youth ministers and students will learn more about the pizza party outreach event during the Youth Evangelism Celebration, Nov. 20-21, at the Cajundome in Lafayette.
“The Monday evening session of the Evangelism Conference will offer a chance for any church to reach the lost, particularly students who will be encouraged to invite their friends to a pizza party wherever their church may be located,” Jenkins said. “By offering the Internet as an option for those unable to drive to the session at Temple Baptist, we are making it possible for the Gospel to be heard at one time by potentially thousands of people in Louisiana. We hope students and other Louisiana Baptists will join us for this session and the remaining sessions of the Evangelism Conference as we will offer many training opportunities to help equip our people for potentially the largest joint evangelistic effort our state has seen.”
After spending 2016 to plan and enlist leaders and churches and using 2017 to conduct statewide evangelism training and pilot different methods, Louisiana Baptists will join together across the state in 2018 in prayer events and intentional soul-winning activities.
The cooperative effort will include a diversity of approaches such as multi-church crusades, one-on-one evangelism, single-church revivals and other activities which leverage compassion ministries to share about the love of Christ.
“The Harvest is not a program developed by the Baptist Building,” Jenkins said. “It grew out of the heart of (Louisiana Baptist Convention President) Gevan Spinney and other pastors and leaders. It is a movement as opposed to a program. It is probably is one of the greatest opportunities we have to impact the maximum number of people at one time in Louisiana.”
Headlining the list of speakers is Vance Pitman, senior pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nev.; Bill Britt, evangelist, and president of Compel Outreach International in Wylie, Texas; Phil Waldrep, founder and president of Phil Waldrep Ministries in Decatur, Ala.; K. Marshall Williams, senior pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa.; Gary Frost, national facilitator of prayer and compassion initiatives for Mission America Coalition in Palm Desert, Calif.; Gevan Spinney, Louisiana Baptist Convention president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Haughton; and Dennis Watson, pastor of Celebration Church in the New Orleans area.
Ray Jones will lead music and will be joined by: the Community Bible praise team from San Antonio, Texas; Squire Parsons, an award-winning Southern Gospel artist who wrote the song “Sweet Beulah Land”; and a combined local church choir.
The conference also will feature breakout sessions and the senior adult lunch, both on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Topics for the sessions will be geared toward equipping leaders for the Harvest initiative. Topics include how to pray for every home, coordinating a small town crusade and holding an effective simultaneous revival.
“Pastors, don’t come alone,” Jenkins said. “Bring four to five people to attend the different breakout sessions so your people are equipped for the next two years. They can catch a vision on what the Harvest is like and they will be equipped for what could be a catalyst for spiritual awakening in Louisiana for 2017 and 2018.”
SENIOR ADULT LUNCHEON
The senior adult lunch at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 24 will feature music by Squire Parsons and a message by Phil Waldrep.
During his message, Waldrep will discuss his newest book “Reaching Your Prodigal: What Did I Do Wrong? What Do I Do Know?”
“We’re encouraging everyone to come early and stay late to hear some other great speakers,” said Jeff Ingram, adult ministry strategist for Louisiana Baptists. “In particular, there will be several breakout sessions on that Tuesday afternoon. Phil Waldrep will lead a breakout on his new book. Please come join Baptists from across Louisiana and be inspired, encouraged, and motivated to share the Gospel.”
The cost for the senior adult lunch is $12 and tickets can be purchased through Jan. 16 at http://louisianabaptists.org/senior-adult-luncheon/.
Keep up to date with the Evangelism Conference by downloading the ECON App. Available for iphone and android phones, the app will feature the conference schedule, links to bible.com and whativaluemost.com, salvation verses, weather alerts and more.