BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle
Rusty Martin Sr., right, signs his autograph on a “Courageous” DVD Jan. 17 at a LifeWay store in Cary. Martin along with his son Rusty Martin Jr., second from right, and Donald Howze, third from right, were at the store on the day the movie was released to talk with fans. The three are from North Carolina. The Martins are members of Turner Memorial Baptist Church in Garner. Howze lives in Raleigh.
North Carolina Baptists are invited to attend the annual statewide evangelism conference Feb. 27 at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem for a day of learning how to understand culture and how to engage in gospel-centered conversations.
“Culture Reach” is the conference theme, and participants will be challenged to become more aware of how culture is changing and how it impacts evangelism.
While the gospel never changes, the challenge comes in understanding how to communicate the gospel to the present culture, said Marty Dupree, evangelism and church growth team leader for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
“For example, people aren’t necessarily interested in church. Now, for many people, it’s not even on their radar,” Dupree said. But many of them are still curious about spiritual things, he added.
One of the best approaches to evangelism in today’s culture, Dupree said, is to engage people in a conversation.
“Evangelism is an act of compassion and not aggression,” he said. “It’s caring about a soul.”
This year’s conference is organized into three themes: youth and culture, the gospel in culture, and popular culture and media for evangelism.
In one of the sessions, Alex Kendrick will speak about media, culture and evangelism. Kendrick starred in “Courageous,” the latest film from Sherwood Pictures.
Rusty Martin Sr. and Rusty Martin Jr., North Carolina actors who also appeared in “Courageous,” will share their testimony.
Alvin Reid is associate dean for proclamation studies and evangelism professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. He will speak during the event about youth and culture. Reid hopes to help North Carolina Baptists understand how to apply the gospel to a “diverse, digital and changing social media culture.”
Although today’s youth live in a world driven by technology, their desire to connect and to be part of something significant is perhaps greater than any other generation.
“We tend to build student ministry on events and attraction,” Reid said. “This is a generation hungry for truth. They want something real, something that lasts.
“There is a hunger for certainty and community.”
Youth also need godly mentors who speak truth into their lives.
“Too often we’ve given advice to teenagers instead of the Good News,” he said. “Any advice has to flow out of the gospel.”
Merrie Johnson, BSC senior consultant for student evangelism and ministry, will also share about youth and culture.
Alex McFarland, a popular speaker and author on apologetics, will speak on the basics of apologetics and how to apply apologetics for Kingdom impact.
“Apologetics can impact your walk and witness personally, but can also jumpstart the outreach and discipleship of every local church,” McFarland said.
McFarland’s interest in apologetics developed soon after he prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior at the age of 21.
At the time he was a student at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. As he shared his faith, his friends on campus began asking lots of questions about the Christian faith.
“I began to see that God could use apologetics to give believers a renewed understanding and appreciation of the faith,” McFarland said. “I began to see apologetics and Christian worldview content as a two-fold tool for evangelism and revival.”
McFarland’s passion is to see revival in the church.
“I believe this revival will come about as we pray and seek the Lord,” he said, “but also as we return to His Word and prepare ourselves to present, explain and defend the faith before a new generation.”
Speaking during the afternoon session are Don Wilton, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, S.C., and Chuck Register, BSC executive leader for church planting and missions development. Register will speak about the Find it Here emphasis on missions mobilization. You can learn more at finditherenc.org.
The conference is free and registration is not required. For a complete schedule, visit ncbaptist.org/culturereach.