ALPHARETTA, Ga.—An Engage 24 workshop was exactly what pastor Bruce Smith Sr. apparently needed. Some could say it is what he was searching for.
“I’m just so excited I came,” Smith said of the evangelism forum hosted at the North American Mission Board building in Alpharetta, Ga., Oct. 4-5. “The speakers were funny, on point and validated what I am already doing in my church when it comes to evangelism. I needed that encouragement because church planting can be hard. And yes, there are many things I haven’t started doing when it comes to evangelizing that I plan on doing when I get back.” Smith planted New Generation Baptist Church Fellowship four years ago in McDonough, Ga., and continues to serve as lead pastor.
“Church planting pastors face a lot of obstacles that come from inside the church as well as outside the church,” Smith said. “Yet, it’s great to come to workshops like Engage 24 where you learn how to be more nonconventional—a church without walls that can touch a lot of people—through the power and understanding of evangelism.”
Engage 24’s theme, “Evangelism Leadership for the Pastor,” featured speakers like Ronnie Floyd, Ted Traylor, Tim Dowdy, Hal Seed and James Merritt.
Merritt, senior pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., passionately professed during the final session “The gospel is exactly the power we need. It’s what we believe in. We must be pastors who will share it.”
Other sessions the 110 attendees sat in on included topics on how to use campaigns to engage non-Christians in a community, evangelism versus fellowship and the seven imperatives for evangelism.
Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, shared the seven key imperatives of evangelism: understanding calling, defining vision, addressing warfare, staying in prayer, maintaining an evangelistic culture within lives and churches, being pastors and seeing the importance of people.
“Pastors, you need to return to understanding your role in a community,” said Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. “You’re there to share and plant the seed of knowledge that anyone can have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He really did die for every person in your community so this much depends on you � you must reach them with the gospel.”
Floyd reiterated the importance of knowing that a pastor’s number one calling is to evangelize, which simply means “reaching the lost for Jesus Christ.”
During a question-and-answer session, pastors Dowdy and Traylor shared how their pride and joy comes from hearing someone thank them for sharing the gospel.
“When someone comes up to me and says, ‘Thank you for telling me about Jesus,’ I just respond by saying I hope to hear that more each day,” said Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. “We’re gospel preachers. We’ve got to make sharing His Word a priority.” (BP)