By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
RUSTON – Sensing a prompting of the Holy Spirit during the final session of the Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference, church planter Vance Pitman issue an altar call to anyone willing to pray for and share Christ with every home in the state.
In the end, dozens of people came forward inside the Temple Baptist Church worship center to accept a massive challenge called the Harvest Initiative that Pitman said appears to seem an impossible task.
But as he told pastors and others during his message Tuesday evening, Jan. 24, the same God who moved in the early church more than 2,000 years ago is the same God who is on the move today.
“It’s a massive goal – every home, every person,” Pitman said. “I can’t imagine a church not wanting to be a part of that.”
Throughout the next two years, 700 Louisiana Baptist churches will be challenged to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in the state. 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.
Pitman, who is pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas, Nev., said for a possible movement of God to take place in the state, Louisiana Baptists should examine the characteristics of the early church.
Those who became Christians in the weeks and months following the resurrection of Jesus had a faith that produced obedience, had a passion that produced unity, had a desperation that produced prayer and had a spirit that produced power.
A reason God isn’t moving in the nation’s churches today is they aren’t desperate for God, Pitman said. For this to happen, Christians must have focused times of prayer.
“God does not need us,” Pitman said. “We need God. But in his infinite, eternal, sovereign plan, God has established He will move in response to the prayers of His people.”
Following the time of prayer at the altar, Louisiana Baptist Convention Evangelism Director Wayne Jenkins said what happened during the session is part of a movement that already has begun to grow in the state. If 700 churches agree to pray for every home and share the Gospel with every person in the state, it would be the highest number of Louisiana Baptist churches ever to band together for such a purpose.
“What would our state look like if it were a prayed-for state?” Jenkins said. “I pray that you would make a commitment to get involved.
“The Gospel is only good news if they hear it in time,” he said. “So let’s get it to them.”
The time of prayer and message delivered by Pitman capped two days of high-energy music, messages by pastors, church planters and evangelists and breakout sessions about how to reach their state for Christ.
The Evangelism Conference also featured Student Night on Monday evening, Jan. 24. Ed Newton, pastor of Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas, presented the Gospel to hundreds of youth and adults, as well as many other youngsters watching his message via a livestream broadcast in the first-ever student night. In the end, around 50 made a decision at Temple Baptist Church alone, including 12 first-time decisions. Numbers from additional sites broadcasting Newton’s message were not known immediately.
Look for more later on the Evangelism Conference at baptistmessage.com and in the next edition of the Baptist Message.