Category: Evangelism

Something needs to change:
Observations about the book,
“Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.”

Norm Millerby Norm Miller

Norm Miller is the director of communications and marketing at Truett-McConnell College.

 


“In recent years, the effectiveness of our evangelistic outreach hasn’t made great strides in turning people to Christ — and in fact, we’re falling behind the rate of the population growth.”

The sentence above comes from the back of a 60-page book titled “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.” The easily read paperback was written by Dr. Steve R. Parr and Dr. Thomas Crites, and is published by Baxter Press, Friendswood, Texas.

Both Parr and Crites are state missionaries serving the Georgia Baptist Convention, whose research report is the basis of the co-authored book under review. In hopes of impacting the lostness of Georgia, the authors ask and answer the question: “What makes a difference when it comes to evangelistic effectiveness?”

How would you answer that question?

Does wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt, cargo shorts and flip-flops while preaching in a public school cafetorium on Saturday night ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Does dimming the house lights while singing repetitive praise choruses to the accompaniment of acoustic guitars and bongos ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Does wearing a three-piece suit and a power tie while preaching three points and a poem inside a white-columned, brick-red sanctuary on Sunday morning at 11.30 ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

How about wearing a polo shirt under a sport coat while preaching from an iPad a topical talk about getting along with jerks at work — after having sung 7.5 minutes of “blended” hymns and choruses — does that ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

What about emphasizing the sovereignty of God, or the moral responsibility of man, or the extent of the atonement, or the perseverance of the Savior, or a regenerate church membership — do these emphases ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms?

Nope.

Parr and Crites provide the answer. Are you ready? Got your seatbelt on? Ready to be wowed? Prepared to hear the “secret” that WILL ensure increased numbers of conversions and subsequent baptisms in your church?

Here it is in one word: Intentionality.

Despite all the emphases noted above, they were all for near naught unless intentional evangelism was prominent in said formats. Styles of clothes, styles of worship, church location, age of pastor, etc., make no difference. Intentional evangelism does. No style (sans intentionality) guarantees effectiveness, nor prevents decline.

Reading “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods” will provide details of the authors’ research, which the reader will find interesting, informative and inspiring. But most of all, the reader will discover the “mindsets that make a difference” in terms of conversions and baptisms in some of Georgia’s most successful, disciple-making churches.

According to the authors’ research:

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms are led by those willing to take risks, to face failure, and to try new methods outside the usual Southern Baptist box.

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms set goals, strive to meet them, and evaluate their efforts. “Ministry may keep one busy but may not produce the fruit God expects of his children. The congregation that aims at nothing will hit it every time,” write the authors. Such churches are “not satisfied with the status quo.”

(Personal note: I heard the late Dr. Adrian Rogers say that we are too satisfied with the status quo. And then he said, “I’ve seen the status, and it ain’t much to quo about.”)

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms engage their communities through a reputation of doctrinal conviction, biblical living, and tangible ministries such as food pantries, clothes closets, counseling and more.

The authors’ research also identified “methods that make a difference” which come from a sampling of more than 2,000 GBC churches, 55 percent of which responded affirmatively to the statement, “We have an intentional evangelism strategy.”

Based on the ratio of worship attendees to baptisms, churches with intentional evangelism strategies baptize 20 percent more people than churches not intentional about evangelism. And in raw numbers, total baptisms increase to three times as many.

As one comedian said, “You don’t hafta be a rocket surgeon to figure this out.”

What about weekly visitation programs — think they’re outdated, passé, unworkable? Think again. Pages 31-32 are eye-openers in this regard. The stats are astounding.

Churches recording more conversions and baptisms believe that, the more seeds sown, the more plants will grow (ala parable of the sower). Such churches also provide evangelism training for members.

Regarding revival meetings — the stats for conversions and baptisms strongly favor such churches that hold revival meetings as opposed to those that don’t.

Part 3 of the book — “Perceptions Versus Reality” — turns the calendar back, validating numerous methods of yesteryear that are thought outdated today. Statistical data prove  the tried-and-true methodologies still work after lo, these many years.

Quoting from page 47, “The irony is that while pundits suggest that certain things do not work in evangelism, the data show that effective churches are often utilizing that which is supposed to be no longer relevant.”

The most effective evangelistic methodologies require “that the congregation get off the property and engage the unchurched in the community.”

What you have read thus far is but a small sampling of the gems ready to be mined from “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods.” We owe a debt of gratitude to Parr and Crites for the years of work involved in their research. We owe it to our churches to read and implement the knowledge Parr and Crites relate. We owe it to our Lord and the lost to be busily about the work of an evangelist. Reading said book would help satisfy those debts.

Copies of “Evangelistic Effectiveness: Difference Makers in Mindsets and Methods” may be downloaded from Amazon.com. Or, one also may go to www.gabaptist.org.

 

 

Soul Winner: Dexter Truesdale

PastorDanNelsonby Dan Nelson

For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.


When I arrived at William Carey College in the fall of 1971, I was anxious to know who my roommate would be, who I discovered upon arrival was another ministerial student who came from more of a country place that I had in Agricola, Miss. Dexter Truesdale, hailed from Bogia, Fla., which was east of Pensacola, near Century. Dexter was engaged and later married the next year. That year was a memorable year for me because God had given me a fellow ministerial student who was a soul winner as a roommate.

Our first mission field was the athletic dorm at Carey called Polk Hall. Most of the athletes there were not Christians, and were recruited for their athletic ability. And although we didn’t see much  results among the athletes, at least they knew that to preachers were available to talk with them about Jesus.  

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Soul Winner: Bryce Evans

 

PastorDanNelsonby Dan Nelson

For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.

 


Bryce Evans was pastor of Agricola Baptist Church when I reconfirmed my call to preach. I was licensed and ordained under his ministry there. Brother Evans was a great encourager to me. He heard me speak in an opening session on youth day in our church and almost immediately scheduled me to preach on Sunday morning. He encouraged me to get all the training I could get while I was young. He had taught at Clarke College in Newton, Miss., before coming to Agricola. Although I did not attend Clarke, he concurred with my decision to go to William Carey College. He even took me to enroll and get settled there.

Brother Evans was a model of ministry evangelism. By that I mean he did evangelism in the course of ministry wherever he went. Many times he would ask: “Want to go visiting with me?” He believed in taking someone else with him when he visited. In revival meetings he would be sure to take the evangelist to as many people as possible and introduce him to unsaved people for an opportunity to share the Gospel with them. 

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Soul-Winner Howard Ramsey

PastorDanNelsonby Dan Nelson

For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.


Howard Ramsey was my mentor in Portland, Ore., in the Northwest Baptist Convention. For two years I was his associate in the Evangelism Division there. My primary job was to assist him, but to also work with Youth Evangelism in training youth groups to witness. I supervised college students who came out to the Northwest and served on what we called Evangelism teams. They would go into churches and conduct revival meetings. I was also out preaching about every weekend somewhere in the Northwest.

Howard later went to the then Home Mission Board in Atlanta, Ga., where he developed the Continued Witness Training system for Southern Baptist. He was also the Director of Personal Witness Training for about a decade.

I used to go visiting for our church with Howard when we were in town together. We traveled places together, and without fail I always saw him try to go as far as he could with people in sharing he gospel with them. Whether in the home or on a plane or a bus, he would start talking with people, finding out where they were from and what they did.

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Soul winner Jim Akins

by Dan Nelson

For 28 years, Dan Nelson has served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Camarillo, Calif. Pastor Nelson will submit a series of posts to SBCToday about people who influenced him for the sake of evangelism.

 


Jim Akins was a strong evangelistic pastor in Missouri and California whom God used to grow churches. He was director of evangelism for the California Southern Baptist Convention in the 90s. Later he worked at the North American Mission Board before returning to the pastorate. Jim was taken from us suddenly through cancer. He didn’t pass into glory, however, without taking many with him to heaven through his witness.

Jim and his wife, Kay, started out well in ministry after he graduated from seminary. However, shortly after that a terrible automobile accident put Kay in a wheel chair for the rest of her life. Kay was a wonderful person who traveled with Jim as much as she could, and she always had a cheerful spirit. The accident never deterred the couple. Jim was one of the most positive people I have ever known. When he became evangelism director, he lifted the spirits of many-a discouraged pastor at state evangelism conferences. You left those conferences knowing God could use you to grow any church through evangelism.

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