By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
ALEXANDRIA – Louisiana Baptists have a unique opportunity to be part of one of the largest joint efforts for evangelism ever undertaken in the state – an initiative that figures to be a major catalyst for spiritual awakening.
During the Louisiana Baptist Convention 2016 Annual Meeting, Nov. 14-15, messengers will have the chance to learn more about how they can say yes to the Harvest – a two-year effort to involve at least 700 Louisiana Baptist churches to “pray for every home and share Christ with every person” in Louisiana, according to Wayne Jenkins, Louisiana Baptists director of evangelism.
“The plan is simple,” he explained. “Dates and the kind of events are set by the churches in the association and the state mission services team serves as a resource to train and implement.”
Jenkins will share more about the Harvest initiative during the Monday evening session of the annual meeting, which will be held at Calvary Baptist Church in Alexandria.
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 harvest events which take advantage of compassion ministries to share about the love of Christ.
2020 COMMISSION INITIATIVE
The vision for the Harvest statewide evangelism effort developed out of the President’s 2020 Commission Final Report, which was affirmed by messengers at the 2013 Annual Meeting. It is an action designed to reach the next generation and every people group, a top priority in the report, and contributes to attaining the goals of KAIROS #10 (Key Actions in Reaching Our State), which calls for helping churches grow through evangelism.
Planning began in late 2015, after Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director David Hankins and LBC President Gevan Spinney announced 2017 and 2018 would be years of harvest.
Initially, a group of 12 Louisiana Baptist pastors, evangelists, directors of missions and state evangelism and church growth staff met for early planning sessions.
Now there are 90 members on this facilitating panel, composing nine teams, who are discussing ideas to include in an evangelism manual on how to share the Gospel and coordinate a harvest event. Information on conducting prayer activities, outreach efforts and discipleship programs also will be covered, and sermon ideas will be included.
Jenkins said the Harvest emphasis for 2017 and 2018 is not a Convention program but rather a movement initiated by pastors and similar leaders in the state, and he expressed admiration for their vision.
“What would this state be like if everyone was prayed for and everyone shared with,” he asked.
The Harvest is just one of a number of important items which will be addressed during this year’s annual meeting.
Highlights for Monday include special music by combined area choirs, a Bible study by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Professor Dennis Phelps, and reports by Louisiana College and the state’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
The bulk of the Convention’s business will take place on Tuesday.
During the final day of the meeting there will be music by the Jason Lovins Band, reports by the Convention’s entities, messages by David Brooks of Calvary Baptist Church and Mac Brunson of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., approval of motions and the election of officers.
At press time, Gevan Spinney, pastor of First Baptist Church, Haughton, and current LBC president, is the only candidate whose name will be placed in nomination for the office of LBC president.
Likewise, David Lane is the only known candidate expected to be nominated for first vice president. Carlos Meza is the sole candidate as well for second vice president.
Lane is pastor of Judson Baptist Church, Walker, and Meza is pastor of Iglesia Bautista Del Calvario in Shreveport.
“I encourage every church and every Louisiana Baptist to participate in our annual meeting,” said David Hankins, executive director for Louisiana Baptists. “In addition to the fellowship, I believe you will walk away informed, inspired and thankful for the impact of the missions and ministries supported through Cooperative Program gifts from the churches.”
FOCUS ON UNITY
LBC President Gevan Spinney, pastor of First Baptist Church, Haughton, said he has seen a renewed sense of unity across the state and is hopeful for the future.
“Sure, there will always be issues that divide us, but continuing to focus on our differences will only further isolate us from each other and result in a failed Gospel mission,” Spinney said. “This past year I have crisscrossed our state to be in associational meetings, preach in churches, visit with pastors, sit on the boards of our state agencies and I can confidently say our greatest days are ahead of us.
“With these things in mind we were led to the theme for this year’s convention,” he continued. “For me the theme is more than a catchy phrase of a slick logo. It is the vision of the unimaginable. This year’s theme is ‘Everyone: Pray for every home, share with every person.’
Those two statements are somewhat audacious, perhaps ridiculously impossible, he said, at least from a purely humanistic perspective, considering there are over 4.7 million people living in nearly 2.1 million different homes in the state.
However, when God is included in the equation, “nothing is impossible,” he offered.
LBC Executive Board President David Cranford echoed the thought.
“2016 has been the best of times and the worst of times for Louisiana Baptists,” he said. “Disaster struck once again as floods devastated large regions of our state.
“In the midst of the dirt, devastation, and depression, Louisiana Baptists responded with the love, compassion, and service in the name of Jesus,” Cranford told the Baptist Message.
“Jesus said, ‘. . . Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,’” he continued. “The Lord has certainly provided us with the opportunity to become great this year.
“Together we are demonstrating that Louisiana Baptists are ‘Here for You,’” Cranford summarized. “Let’s meet in Alexandria Nov. 14-15 and celebrate Jesus and what it means to be His great servants called Louisiana Baptists.”
Gatherings for Nov. 14 include:
–Louisiana Baptist Christian Education Association, 11:30-2 p.m., Cajun Landing, Alexandria
–African-American Fellowship Dinner, 4-5 p.m., Calvary Hall, Calvary Baptist Church
–Minister of Missions Roundtable, 4-5 p.m., Room S203, Calvary Baptist Church
–Asian Fellowship, Copeland’s, 4:15-6 p.m., Alexandria
–Louisiana College Reception, Following Monday evening session, Calvary Hall, Calvary Baptist Church
Gatherings for Nov. 15 include:
–Discover Church Planting Breakfast, 7 a.m., Brocato’s, Alexandria
–Haiti Shout Breakfast, 7 a.m., Room A218, Calvary Baptist Church
–Church Planting Luncheon, noon, Calvary Hall, Calvary Baptist Church
–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Alumni Luncheon, noon, XA Student Auditorium, Calvary Baptist Church
–Retiree/Bi-vocational Luncheon, Room A218, Calvary Baptist Church