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Baptisms rise when strategies implemented
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 12, 2010
6 MIN READ TIME

Baptisms rise when strategies implemented

Baptisms rise when strategies implemented
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 12, 2010

North Carolina Baptist

churches committed to more effective evangelistic efforts in their communities

are finding help through the Intentionally Evangelistic Churches Strategy

(IECS) created by Don McCutcheon, executive leader for evangelization at the

Baptist State Convention.

Pastors and church staff who

have participated in IECS conferences recommend the experience to others.

Universally, they say two of the strategy’s strengths are that it forces

participants to evaluate their church’s current efforts and it offers a wealth

of ideas from which to draw, without presenting cookie cutter solutions.

Aaron Wallace, administrator

and interim pastor at Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, was an early adapter

and participated in one of the first strategy conferences.

“It was fantastic,” he said.

Leaders exposed participants to many ideas from other churches, and “made you

spend time at the end applying what you heard and coming up with a strategy for

your church.

“They asked, ‘What is your

intention for what you learned?’”

Wallace, chairman of the

Baptist State Convention’s board of directors evangelization committee, said

the most helpful element of the strategy for his church was assimilation. Staff

realized they had “gobs of people” who were under watch care but who had not

been moved along the path to full membership.

Hephzibah restructured its

process and found more effective ways to utilize Sunday School leaders and

deacons in assimilation. “That was huge,” he said. “We’re much more streamlined

now.”

IECS also covers

evangelistic outreach events and Hephzibah is both doing more of them, and

making sure each is “truly evangelistic,” Wallace said. The church serves a

holiday meal to the community and is preparing back-to-school backpacks laden

with classroom essentials.

Several came to Christ

through a “free yard sale” the church sponsored, which drew 800 to the campus.

Clients were given $100 in “funny money” to shop a gymnasium filled with

clothes and practical goods donated by church and community members. Seventy

church members circulated among the clients during the day, gathering contact

information and sharing Christ.

Earlier, the church likely

would not have been so diligent about securing information for follow up,

Wallace said.

When McCutcheon asked

participants what their baptism record was the previous two years, Wallace said

Hephzibah staff was “shocked” to realize they had baptized just eight and 12.

From the moment they

finished the strategy sessions, they began to implement changes that have

resulted in increases to 24 baptisms the following year, then 31 and 39 so far

in 2010.

“I recommend IECS without

question,” Wallace said. “I think every church should go through it, if for no

other reason than to evaluate the effectiveness of what they’re presently

doing.”

Hendersonville

First Baptist Church,

Hendersonville experienced an even more dramatic increase following their staff

participation in IECS. Pastor Ryan Pack said IECS is a good strategy because he

left every session with practical ideas to implement at his church that

emphasize baptisms and prioritize evangelism.

Baptisms at First Baptist

increased from 16 in 2008 to 78 in 2009, Pack said. They included outdoor

baptisms at a lake and in a horse trough in front of the church’s new student

center where community people driving around the church saw the activity.

(See videos at www.fbchncorg/videos.)

Hendersonville elevated the

importance of baptism in church life, said Pack, pastor since June 2008. “We

made baptism public. People in the community … saw it happening. Students not

connected with our church were able to see baptism for the first time and see

it in a different setting.”

Their weekly outreach

strategy has become “Splash Night” and members see it as a great opportunity to

share the gospel and to connect with other people in the community.

They’ve become “really

intentional in follow up after events,” Pack said. Like Hephzibah, they’ve also

become very intentional in their assimilation process with prospects and new

members.

Hendersonville’s “Discover

First” orientation starts with dinner and includes a complete gospel

presentation, reinforcing the conviction “that those who consider joining have

accepted Christ,” Pack said.

Their orientation includes a

workbook and teaching on evangelism, to equip new members to share the gospel.

Attending IECS requires a

three-day commitment, a length of time that may keep some from considering it.

But Pack said, “There is no commitment too big for us to do a better job with

the Great Commission.”

“The way they teach it, the

time flies,” he said. “You’d never know you’re sitting in a

workshop. It’s so practical and they give you time with your staff and the

people you bring from your church to come up with ideas you can apply in your

ministry setting.

“Every single session you

walked out of you carried ideas you can apply immediately.”

City of Hope

Hendersonville is a large

church, but Pack said IECS is taught in a way that “any church from 10 to

10,000” would benefit.

Michael Moore, pastor of

both City of Hope in Shelby, and Webb First Baptist in Ellenboro, said

strategies he learned at IECS have helped increase baptisms at both churches.

“We absolutely enjoyed” the

training event, Moore said. He and the three church members who accompanied him

learned to make baptism a big event in their church, and to have those who are

being baptized invite friends and family to the event. Attendance doubles on

days where there is a baptism, he said.

City of Hope is a

three-year-old church with 60-80 attending and it baptized 39 people last year.

Webb First Baptist baptized a similar number.

“We make baptism something

people will always remember,” Moore said, including decorating with streamers

and special lighting.

Church members visit both

prospects and new members on Monday and Wednesday.

Moore is a church planter

and said the IECS strategy “really did help us.”

He thinks “everybody ought

to go to that workshop” and said the three men he took with him from his church

“absolutely loved it.”

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