By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
TIOGA, La. (LBM) – Clark Palmer has encouraged his members to “find one, invite one and bring one” to Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday services at Faith Baptist Church in Tioga.
He said he is praying the effort will yield much spiritual fruit, including additional baptisms at a church whose post-pandemic Sunday morning worship attendance is 70. Palmer is hopeful they will soon return to their pre-virus average of 80 to 90.
“We all know the number one way that people come to church is by someone inviting them,” Palmer told the Baptist Message. “Lots of people are waiting to be invited. If 30 people are invited and five come, and one develops a long-term relationship with Christ because of it, then it would have been worth the effort. We are not responsible to make results happen, but we are responsible to invite, encourage and make an appeal to people.”
The effort is part of the “Increase Challenge,” a five-step action plan in effect through May 31
that Palmer, who is moderator for the CENLA Baptist Association, has issued to member pastors. He is encouraging them to find a way to focus on actions that can move people to understand the Gospel clearly and then respond in faith.
So far, 11 pastors have accepted the challenge and agreed to have a Gospel basics class or event, hold a membership or baptism day, preach one sermon on the New Testament practice of baptism, conduct at least one outreach event off campus and share the Gospel in a conversation on at least three separate occasions.
Faith Baptist has already baptized two new converts since the launch of the association-wide challenge, Jan. 11, and Palmer believes all the combined planned activities could increase that number to even more.
Other churches are reporting progress, too: Trinity Baptist Church, Pineville (four baptisms), Calvary Baptist Church, Gardner (Gospel basics class), Lakeside Baptist Church, Pineville (community-wide distribution of hand-made crosses for display in front yards).
Palmer said when he was elected moderator, he did not want just to coordinate meetings. Rather, he wanted to help other churches increase Gospel outreach to their respective communities.
While praying about direction for the association during an afternoon walk in his Pineville neighborhood, Palmer said this idea for a focus came clearly to mind.
“We’ve seen a decline of baptisms in the state and national convention that is startling,” he said. “We need to focus on the basics.”