By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
WOODWORTH – Louisiana Baptist state missions staff updated Executive Board members on progress made to reach the next generation with the Gospel by 2020.
“It’s axiomatic that if you do not reach the next generation that you won’t have another generation of the church,” Louisiana Baptists Executive Director David Hankins said during the September 25 Executive Board meeting at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center in Woodworth. “We know the Lord has promised that won’t happen because the gates of death will never be strong against the church on the earth. There will always be another church. But we have a duty to give ourselves to that.”
The next generation is one of two groups identified as a target audience in the President’s 2020 Commission Report. Adopted by messengers at the 2013 Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meeting, the 2020 initiative seeks to reach every generation and every people group in Louisiana with the Gospel by the year 2020 through the avenues of congregational revitalization, church planting, communications and collaboration.
“We are asking God to give us favor as we concentrate on this last facet in these last months of the 2020 effort to do some things to reach the next generation,” he said.
Since the report was affirmed by messengers, Tall Timbers has played a major role in helping Louisiana Baptists reach the next generation.
Louisiana Baptists Information Services Director and Chief Financial Officer Dale Lingenfelter shared with board members how the center has provided a setting for children and youth to learn more about missions and the Gospel through its camps. Combined attendance at the Royal Ambassador’s camp as well as other children’s, youth and special needs camps has increased from 995 in 2009 to 2,428 in 2018.
During that 10-year time period, 1,510 campers accepted Christ as Savior.
“We praise the Lord for this number,” he said. “We pray these are going back and making these decisions public in your churches. This is what it’s all about.”
For Louisiana Baptists to continue reaching the next generation at Tall Timbers, Lingenfelter said a swimming pool that is more than 50 years old must be replaced and conference rooms in one of the buildings must be converted to dormitory rooms to accommodate more overnight campers before next summer.
“We are attempting to do this with volunteers but are having difficulty getting help,” Lingenfelter said. “If you or someone from your church would like to be a part of this project, please contact (camp director) Josh (Bumgardner) here at Tall Timbers.”
Louisiana Baptists State Collegiate Ministry Director Mark Robinson shared that in the last 12 years, nine Baptist collegiate ministry buildings have been renovated or constructed, citing those developments as examples of Louisiana Baptists’ commitment to reach the next generation.
He applauded the state convention for investing in the lives of campus ministers and college students, who are on the front lines of the culture war.
“These folks are serving the Lord at all times and all places making a difference on the campus,” Robinson said. “You have the finest staff in the country for collegiate ministry.”