The statistics can be daunting: 5.6 million, 258 million and 6 billion. But those are more than statistics; they represent the number of people across North Carolina, North America and around the world who desperately need to hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) has designed the Find it Here 2012: Expanding the Kingdom initiative to help North Carolina Baptists maximize their efforts to reach the world with the gospel.
This year’s emphasis is the third year in a three-year emphasis on intentional evangelism, transformational discipleship and mission mobilization.
To help North Carolina Baptists engage in God’s mission of sharing the gospel message, Find it Here 2012 is built on the foundation of Acts 1:8 and seeks to help churches develop a strategy for reaching their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth with the gospel.
Find it Here includes four strategic phases: discover, develop, implement and evaluate. As churches move through the phases they will assess their current mission strategy, create the framework for a comprehensive mission strategy, implement that strategy and then evaluate the effectiveness of that strategy.
Joel Stephens, pastor of Westfield Baptist Church in Westfield, is leading the congregation through this year’s mobilization initiative. The church recently completed the discover phase and is working toward developing a missions strategy.
Stephens liked how the Find it Here process led the church to evaluate their previous mission efforts. “The greatest benefit is it’s forced us to sit down and do the painful work of honestly analyzing our missional effectiveness,” he said. “I really thought we were a lot more on top of things.”
Before incorporating Find it Here, Westfield lacked a central focus on missions. Instead, the church had a variety of mission activities. Now, Stephens believes Westfield is learning how to bring those efforts together under a streamlined approach that fits the collective strengths of its members.
He compared the first phase of Find it Here to going to the doctor for a checkup. But in the end he is pleased with the results. “We’re glad we went for that checkup,” Stephens said. “It’s been priceless.”
His experience has taught him how easy it can be to lose focus on being mission oriented. He encourages other pastors to use Find it Here as a way to evaluate and reprioritize their mission strategy.
“It is so easy in a local congregation setting to just get stuck in the rut of doing church on Sunday and Wednesday,” Stephens said. “If you’re not careful, you end up being keepers of the aquarium.”
Free resources to help churches carry out the Find it Here emphasis are available for download at finditherenc.org. This site features videos, sermon outlines, Bible study lessons and other guides.
North Carolina Baptists are also encouraged to participate once again in the Find it Here Easter evangelism emphasis. Hundreds of churches across the state have participated in the Easter emphasis during the past two years. If your church has not been involved in previous years it’s not too late to join this year’s effort.
As in the previous two years, pastors and church leaders are encouraged to lead their churches to do the following:
• Pray for non-believers (family members, friends, neighbors and work associates) by name.
• Invite those non-believers to attend the Easter Sunday morning worship service.
• Preach an evangelistic sermon and extend an evangelistic invitation.
• Baptist new converts on Easter Sunday or the Sunday following.
A variety of evangelism resources – such as the EvangeCube – are also available on the Find it Here website. The North American Mission Board provided funds to the Baptist State Convention to purchase EvangeCubes for the Easter Evangelism Emphasis. Churches under 125 in membership can receive free EvangeCubes to hand out to their members. Larger churches can purchase them for a discounted price of $3.50. Pastors and church planters are encouraged to share the EvangeCube during Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday. For more information, please call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5563.
C.J. Bordeaux, pastor of Gorman Baptist Church in Durham, participated in last year’s Find it Here Easter evangelism emphasis and baptized 16 people on Palm Sunday. This year he is planning to baptize a father and his stepdaughter together at the end of the Easter service.
He believes that Find it Here is an effective tool and should become a yearly process and focus for North Carolina Baptists.
“The house will not be built by itself. The man must put his hand on the hammer,” Bordeaux said. “Find it Here is just words on paper or a banner that is hung until we use it. We’ve got to utilize the tools we’ve been given.”