By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Ron Herrod said in a day when Southern Baptist churches are seeing a decline in baptisms, the time is now for Christ-followers to carry out God’s will – bringing in the harvest.
“May God break our hearts,” Herrod said during the 2018 Evangelism Conference at First Baptist Church, Pineville. “The harvest is there and we’re missing the harvest.”
Herrod was one of many speakers who emphasized this theme in their messages.
The program also featured Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, New Orleans, and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention; Rick Gage, founder of GO TELL Ministries, Atlanta, Ga.; Sammy Tippit, founder of Sammy Tippit Ministries, San Antonio, Texas; Greg Frizzell, founder of Greg Frizzell Ministries, Oklahoma City, Okla.; and, Karen Abercrombie, an award winning actress who played the spicy, 80-year-old prayer warrior, Miss Clara, in the film “War Room.”
Also, he was representative of the group’s emphasis on soul-winning as the needed focus of all Louisiana Baptist ministries.
“You can build houses,” said Herrod, founder of Ron Herrod Evangelism Ministries Association, Knoxville, Tenn. “You can meet human needs. You can feed people. And you can clothe them. But if you don’t win them to Jesus it’s like giving a cough drop to a guy with cancer. It’s just not going to meet their true need.”
Preaching from John 4:35, Herrod stressed that the Holy Spirit “will fill you and equip you and enable you to do what God has called you to do” – to share your faith as a witness for Jesus.
He also emphasized “the prayer room” as the place where spiritual combat is properly fought.
“The church that’s not praying is straying,” he said. “The pastor that’s not praying is playing. You are going to win the battle in the prayer room, on the altar, on your face before God.
“Pastors, I beg you have more than a wet noodle for a backbone and have the courage and the guts and the stamina to preach truth,” he said. “God will bless the preaching of truth to build His church and to draw the net and to draw people to Christ. The Holy Spirit will use the truth that you preach to convict the hearts of people that need Jesus.”
The Harvest is a statewide campaign that so far has enlisted nearly 900 of 1,650 Louisiana Baptist churches to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in Louisiana. State strategists spent 2016 to plan and enlist leaders and churches and in 2017 conducted statewide evangelism training and piloted different methods. Now, Louisiana Baptists are joining together across the state in 2018 for 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 Evangelism Conference, which took place Jan. 22-23, featured the first large-scale Harvest event of 2018. During student night Jan. 22, youth gathered in the First, Pineville, gymnasium to enjoy a demonstration by the BMX bike team from Real Encounter ministry and take part in a pizza supper.
Afterwards, they joined other participants in the worship center to hear a message by Brent Crowe, vice president of Student Leadership University, Orlando, Fla.
At the invitation, three students came forward to declare Christ the Lord of their lives, four repented to restore fellowship with Christ, two responded to the Holy Spirit’s call to vocational ministry and one made an undisclosed spiritual commitment.
Keith Manuel, director of evangelism and church growth for Louisiana Baptists, told the Baptist Message that ECON “was extremely successful in solidifying the preparation and continuation of the work necessary for the Harvest events planned by the associations and churches.
“The Holy Spirit refreshed many who were tired and provided the boost to finish well the work He has led our congregations and pastors to undertake. It is always amazing to watch as the Lord takes the individual messages He places on the hearts of our speakers and the sessions become a cohesive, power-packed time of equipping, learning, and worship.”
The praise and worship lineup included Ray Jones and the Community Bible Church praise team from San Antonio, Texas; Larnelle Harris, an award-winning Gospel singer; Voices of LC; and, a combined choir from central Louisiana.
The conference also included breakout sessions (geared toward equipping leaders for the Harvest initiative) and the senior adult lunch which drew 425 to eat and enjoy music by Harris and Voices of LC, as well as inspiring messages by Abercrombie and Frizzell.
ECON 2018 ended with a special presentation to Wayne Jenkins, who retired after serving the past 27 years as Director of Evangelism for Louisiana Baptists.
Video messages from ECON are available for free at https://vimeo.com/labaptists/videos.
Churches with Harvest events scheduled are encouraged to contact Manuel at 318.448.3402 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.