BALTIMORE (BP) — The advancement of the Great Commission will never be accelerated without Christians engaging in personal evangelism, newly elected Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd said during an evangelism panel discussion at the SBC annual meeting in Baltimore.
“Somehow we have to find a way to do more to reach lost people for the Lord Jesus Christ,” Floyd said. “You can’t accelerate the Great Commission without personal evangelism.”
Floyd joined pastors Steve Gaines, Stephen Rummage, and John Meador along with evangelism professor Matt Queen to explore how Southern Baptist churches can be re-ignited with a fire for evangelism. The event, called “Launch: Creating a Culture of Everyday Evangelism” was hosted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Queen, a professor at Southwestern, encouraged pastors to model personal evangelism for church members. He recalled his days as a pastor, taking key leaders in his church with him on visits and training them in evangelism.
“Evangelism really is more caught than it is taught,” Queen said during the June 11 panel.
Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church near Memphis, Tenn., added that true discipleship requires teaching that person to share his faith.
“If you’re not training them to win people to Jesus, you’re not discipling a real disciple of Jesus,” Gaines said.
“When you lead someone to Christ, and you have a layman that just helped you share a testimony, you’ll never have to convince them that soul-winning is important again. They’ll want to see people get saved.”
Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church near Tampa, Fla., said he prays daily for opportunities to share his faith.
“I want our people to know their personal responsibility for sharing the Gospel with people one-on-one and that I have a personal responsibility for sharing the Gospel with people one-on-one,” Rummage said.
John Meador, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, echoed the challenge he gave earlier that day during his convention sermon. “I believe great awakening comes by obeying God in whatever it is we’re not obeying Him, and right now, we’re not obeying Him in evangelism,” Meador said. “I believe God will send great awakening if we will just dive in with evangelism.”
“It’s time for prognostication to stop and proclamation to increase,” Queen said.
North American Mission Board Vice President of Evangelism Al Gilbert, who led a pastors’ task force on evangelistic impact and declining baptisms last year, concluded the panel discussion with a brief explanation of the task force’s findings and a prayer for a resurgence of evangelism within SBC churches.
To see video of the panel discussion, click here.
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).