With 5.8 million lost people in North Carolina, the depth of lostness extends to every city, town and neighborhood across the state.
“Lostness is everywhere, not just the eight population centers of North Carolina,” said Lester Evans, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) team leader for associational partnerships. “We are not off the hook in rural areas. Lostness is just as great there, and every soul is important to God.”
Evans spoke during a breakout session at the recent BSC annual meeting that focused on helping rural churches develop a contextualized strategy for impacting lostness, as well as understanding the dramatic increase in lostness in North Carolina.
Immigration is one factor, as people groups continue migrating to North Carolina from non-Christian cultures. Another factor is the rise of secularism, which has combined with immigration to create a distinctly post-Christian culture.
“You are encountering people who have never heard about Jesus, particularly those who have come from other religious backgrounds,” Evans said. “They don’t get up on Sunday morning and decide to go to church. It’s just not on their radar.”
The changing cultural landscape means believers must find new ways to engage non-believers, and this will only happen as churches are intentional about becoming healthy disciple-making churches, and as believers understand their role in fulfilling the Great Commission.
“If we see becoming a believer as the end of the journey, then our service to God becomes going to church and going home,” he said.
“Becoming a believer is the beginning of the journey. The Great Commission happens in the lives of every believer as we reproduce ourselves.”
As part of the Convention’s new five-year strategy to impact lostness through disciple-making, Convention staff are ready to assist local churches across the state to become healthy disciple-making churches. In addition, Convention staff will work with local churches and associations to form local strategy teams to develop strategies for impacting lostness.
A strategy team may include members of a local church, or members from several churches, who come together to gather information about unreached people groups in a specific area and then develop a framework for reaching those groups.
Prior to forming a strategy team, pastors and associational leaders should lead churches through a season of prayer, asking God to give believers a burden for reaching the lost.
Then, leaders should enlist people who have a passion to reach the lost to assist in establishing a local or regional strategy team.
“The strategy team will develop a framework to impact lostness that is contextualized to your area,” Evans said. “Be intentional in implementing the plan. If you’re not intentional it will not work.”
Evans said although both failures and successes will come, North Carolina Baptists should not stop at the failures. “Take the risks, celebrate the success and then evaluate the process,” he said.
Above all, Evans said to make a plan and remember the goal.
“The end result is reproducing disciples,” he said. “That’s what we are all after – disciples who can reproduce themselves.”