GPS wandering with no direct funding
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
November 24, 2008

GPS wandering with no direct funding

GPS wandering with no direct funding
Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor
November 24, 2008

A national evangelism strategy still sputtering for lack of funding will be “ancillary” to the Baptist State Convention’s (BSC) current evangelistic strategy, says North Carolina’s evangelism leader.

A bare bones outline for “God’s Plan for Sharing” (GPS) was announced in June at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting by the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) President Geoff Hammond. That GPS initiative is the focus of an analysis in the Nov. 20 Georgia Christian Index, which criticizes NAMB for failing to adequately fund the effort.

Don McCutcheon, executive leader for the BSC’s evangelization group, said the BSC wants to to assist churches to develop an effective and individualized strategy to consistently make and win disciples.

“The major thrust to accomplish this is the Intentional Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) seminars of evangelistic leadership, evangelistic prayer, assimilation, event evangelism and personal evangelism,” McCutcheon said in an e-mail response to questions about GPS. “GPS would be ancillary to the IECS, but would provide through the 2010 emphasis a focused opportunity to impact our state.”

McCutcheon said GPS aspects of praying, sowing, engaging and harvesting are general enough to apply to the churches in North Carolina.

“The IECS seminars train pastors, staff and laity in various avenues to effectively implement each of those aspects to their own culture and context,” he said.

NAMB president Geoff Hammond told state executives and evangelism directors that NAMB would provide media kits and DVDs, but each state would have to buy advertising to support GPS, according to the Index report. Hammond told the Index there would be a “targeted media campaign” but there is no line item in the NAMB budget for GPS, according to the Index story.

McCutcheon said there are no plans at this time for the BSC to purchase media buys.

The advantage of a national strategy and NAMB involvement such as in the effective “Here’s Hope” campaign of the 1990s is to raise broad awareness that enhances local efforts. Without commitment by NAMB to drive an awareness effort and to supplement its cost, a “national strategy” could be reduced simply to the sum of disparate state and local efforts.

The Index cited unnamed state evangelism directors as saying they couldn’t imagine attempting GPS without major media support.

Baptist Press issued a report Nov. 21 based on a transcript of the interview Index editors conducted with Hammond. In it, Hammond said the mission board is charting a different media strategy for GPS than has been used in previous national campaigns. In the new initiative, the board had decided to make targeted media purchases in specific locations, rather than a bulk purchase of advertising to blanket North America.

“Every market is different…. What would work in New York may not work out in Idaho,” Hammond said, according to the transcript. “We’re trying to do it very scientifically with some research and objective facts that we don’t just say this is what every American’s thinking about in every neighborhood about the gospel.”

The board also is studying a broader variety of media that might be used, said Brandon Pickett, communications team leader for the North American Mission Board.

“We are getting research from the top 200 markets,” Pickett said, according to the interview transcript. “We’re finding that in some areas television would be the best way to do it. Some it’s actually putting an ad on Google because it’s more social media … or Facebook.”

“I mean some pioneer areas it’s actually putting things at the Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart is the place that everybody goes but there’s not a whole lot of television coverage,” Pickett said. “So we’re looking at those markets to find out which would be the best media campaign and that’s why we’re calling it targeted media campaign based on the region.”

Hammond said in the interview that the entity’s budget doesn’t have a line item for the national evangelism initiative because “this is so much bigger than one line item.”

The Index analysis asks if an “emphasis” with no budget line of its own, can be considered an emphasis.