Published March 21, 2013
By Al Gilbert
ALPHARETTA (BP) — Does the North American Mission Board (NAMB) still do evangelism? That’s a question I get from time to time, and the answer is, absolutely, “yes.”
In fact, I hope that any time NAMB is mentioned that the phrase “penetrate lostness” comes to mind, because this is our mission.
Doing what God has called us to and what Southern Baptists have charged us with would be impossible without concerted evangelistic efforts throughout North America.
We long to see every believer sharing Christ. That is why we still produce dozens of resources for churches and individuals to use as they share Christ. You can find them at our God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) website: gps2020.net/resources.
Here are several other ways NAMB is involved in evangelism:
► Through LoveLoud we are assisting churches in developing ministry evangelism movements.
► Disaster relief volunteers are sharing help and the hope of Christ in times of crisis.
► Chaplaincy ministries throughout United States Armed Forces, law enforcement and other institutions are extending the Gospel reach on the front lines of war and life.
► Collegiate ministries are making Christ known on college campuses.
► We are currently distributing free Find it Here New Testaments to every SBC church in North America. Each includes the plan of salvation and a guide through the “Romans Road.”
► Church revitalization efforts are aimed at strengthening churches so they can reach their communities with the Gospel.
► In non-Southern states, NAMB pays between 80 and 95 percent of the salaries for our state Baptist conventions to have a director of evangelism for their state.
► In addition, every state convention outside the South receives NAMB funds specifically set aside for evangelism efforts.
Since 2010, our spending on specific evangelism efforts has gone from 12 percent of total expenses to 13 percent of total expenses.
In addition to all of these efforts focused specifically on evangelism, each one of the churches we help Southern Baptists start each year is created to have an evangelistic DNA. Our very definition of a church plant hinges on the fact that it must be evangelistic.
Everything we do at NAMB is for the purpose of mobilizing Southern Baptists to penetrate lostness wherever it is in North America – whether a church planter is establishing a new work in an unreached urban area or a pastor is leading his church through a GPS outreach effort. This is why NAMB exists.
Al Gilbert serves as vice president of evangelism and executive director of LoveLoud ministries for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
By Jerry Drace
I read with interest the recent Baptist Press article by Al Gilbert, vice president of evangelism and executive director of LoveLoud ministries for the North American Mission Board. The four areas mentioned – Disaster relief, Chaplaincy, Collegiate ministries and the Find it Here New Testaments – are certainly Great Commission expressions of evangelism.
Jim Coldiron, Atlanta director of Counselor Training and Follow-Up for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Franklin Graham Festivals and former evangelism consultant for NAMB for 12 years, recently said to me, “The article from Al is a good story but leaves out much of the heart of what is done in evangelism. There is still a need for revivals and the use of God-called evangelists to conduct them.”
As a Southern Baptist evangelist since 1975 I would like to remind the readers that answering the call of God to full-time evangelistic ministry is as scriptural as answering the call to pastor. From Philip, the first great evangelist of the faith, to the last one called to share the riches of Christ the itinerant evangelist is still in the forefront of effective and productive evangelism.
Junior Hill of Hartselle, AL, Southern Baptist evangelist for 45 years, says, “Contrary to what many in the religious world would have us to believe, our churches have never needed more the ministry of harvest evangelists.
“It is no coincidence that the tragic decline in baptisms across the SBC is happening at the very same time reaping evangelists are being shunned and ignored. I call upon the pastors and churches of our convention to use these good and godly servants.”
Longtime Memphis, TN, evangelist Phil Glisson says, “We need many hooks in the water for evangelism and discipleship and the revival meeting remains an important and effective hook.”
In 1975 there were approximately 600 men and women in full-time evangelistic ministry in the SBC. Today you would be hard pressed to find 100. May we not forget that the great spiritual movements in our nation were often forged in the furnaces of heaven-sent, God-honoring, soul-searching, personal-proclamation events called revivals preached by evangelists.
Sometime ago I asked Billy Graham what he thought about the current trend of churches neither using evangelists nor having revivals. He said, “I know of no higher calling than that of the itinerant evangelist. The need for evangelism and revival is as pressing as ever – and so are the opportunities. I encourage pastors to prayerfully consider using a member of COSBE in your church and community.”
Do evangelists in the SBC still do evangelism? Absolutely! Please pray about using one in your next evangelistic event.
Jerry Drace, who lives in Jackson, TN, is past president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE). His website can be viewed at www.HopefortheHome.org. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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