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The Open Door

 

Relentless Pursuit: Reaching the Next Generation” is the theme for this year’s State Missions Offering. There is no greater need right now than to reach the next generation. This is one critical area of ministry that is affected by this offering.

Our State Missions Offering goal is $1,750,000. Due to the weak economy, we need an aggressively generous response to the offering this year. If you have not given to the State Missions Offering in previous years, or if your promotion of this offering has been minimal, we need you to make this a priority.

I remember well the days in Southern Baptist life when we were having great success reaching children and youth, but that has not been the case for a long time. Dr. Thom Rainer recently reported these shocking statistics:

 

60% of 60 year olds and up attend church.
40% of 42-60 year olds attend church.
18% of 31-42 year olds attend church.
4% of 13-30 year olds attend church

 

The Scripture text that guides the State Missions Offering theme is from Psalm 78:1-8. The Psalmist, speaking of the Word of the Lord, says in verses 3-6,

“…what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonders He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.”

There is a clear Biblical directive for us to reach the next generation with the Gospel. I can tell you that this is the commitment of your state missions staff.

Doug Couch, specialist in Youth Ministries for the Convention, recently gave our staff a report of the ministry among youth this summer. Doug reported the beginning of a new event called “Merge” where local churches, city government, and youth from across Georgia joined efforts to impact the city of Toccoa, Georgia. There were 171 participants who worked throughout the county.

Ministry was done through working with the children at the Children’s Club in Toccoa, and working across the area doing roofing, painting, and construction. Doug referred to a surge in volunteerism across Georgia that we will plug into through this new ministry utilizing the gifts of Christian young people.

Doug further reported that at SuperWow and Impact this summer there were 863 decisions for Christ with over 350 of those being professions of faith. Sixty young people declared that God was calling them into the ministry.

An Van Pham reported that there were 18 professions of faith among Asian young people at SuperWow.

Warren Skinner reported that there were 234 student summer missionaries from Georgia all across the world this summer. These students shared their faith in Christ and conducted a wide variety of ministries including health care ministry.

Dennis Rivera reported that there were 67 participants at the South Georgia Hispanic Youth Camp and 12 professions of faith. He thanked the Norman Park Conference Center staff and director Brian Blackburn for all they did to make the camp a great success including the outstanding Mexican food.

Janet Speer reported that WMU had experienced an incredible summer at Camp Pinnacle and expressed special appreciation for Karen Pace, whose leadership made a great difference in the quality of the camp.

Benny Pate reported on the summer youth worker program which places summer youth workers in churches across the state that do not have a youth worker to help our churches reach young people more effectively during the summer months. Benny reported that approximately 100 youth have come to Christ through this ministry over the past nine years.

Michael Flowers reported that among the many other camping events at Camp Kaleo this summer, a new day camp program was introduced to reach the children of the surrounding area. There was a daily average attendance of 14. There was such a positive impact on the community that numerous community leaders have offered to help with the ministry next summer.

Jon Duncan, specialist in Music and Worship Ministries, reported that at the middle school music camp there were about 90 young people who attended and several who made professions of faith and others who surrendered to ministry. The Young Musicians camp held at Norman Park attracted 130 campers this summer and resulted in several decisions for Christ. Keith Chandler added that the All-State Youth Choir was on tour performing concerts but primarily doing mission projects. While they sang 17 concerts in 4 days in several places in New York State, they worked in Buffalo and Rochester in hands-on missions. In Rochester they assisted a new storefront church by locating over 300 prospects.

Brian Blackburn, director of the Norman Park Conference Center, reported that in addition to the music camps they hosted Centrikids with six to eight Georgia Baptist churches participating each of the three weeks and one weekend of camp.

There are 906,000 students, grades 7-12, in Georgia. It is estimated that 634,000 of these students have not been reached by any church. Will you help us reach them?

Your gifts to the Georgia Baptist State Missions Offering will help us to reach the next generation.