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North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 12, 2010
6 MIN READ TIME

North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009

North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
July 12, 2010

Baptisms in Southern Baptist

churches increased two percent in 2009 after four years of decline. Among North

Carolina Baptist churches, baptisms leaped 20 percent to 26,584 and surpassed

26,000 for the first time in seven years.

Don McCutcheon, Baptist

State Convention executive leader for evangelization since July 2006, credits

the increase to God’s moving people toward the harvest.

As the staff member who

keeps closest tabs on evidence of North Carolina Baptists evangelizing and

discipling, McCutcheon says the increase is due to “the blessing of our God

upon His people evidenced by a heightened awareness and concern by pastors,

churches and associational missionaries for those in our state who do not have

a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

“Pastors are praying toward

the Kingdom,” said McCutcheon, 60. “They are praying for the lost. They have a

heart for the Great Commission, and are leading their churches to be the same.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention executive leader for evangelization, talks about the increase in baptisms in North Carolina.

“People are becoming aware

of the great harvest God is bringing to us. There are people all over the world

coming to North Carolina to study in our institutions and also who choose to live

here. And we have a great opportunity to witness and share and help them come

to know Christ.”

McCutcheon, who held a

similar position with Florida Baptists, also credits the “driving vision” of

BSC Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., with elevating

evangelism in the consciousness of North Carolina churches.

Baptisms matter in an

evaluation of evangelical effectiveness, he said, because they indicate

obedience.

“Baptism is the first opportunity after conversion for a new

believer to be obedient to the Lordship of Christ,” McCutcheon said. “They also

are an indicator that churches are truly about the Great Commission.”

McCutcheon called baptisms

“the only quantifiable parameter in the Great Commission.”

McCutcheon does not separate

evangelism and disciple making, but says they are two sides of the same coin

and “one cannot exist without the other.”

“Making disciples is the

most joyful hard work in the Christian life,” he said, expressing regret at the

difficulty of getting modern Christians to share their faith. “You can actually

get Christians to tithe before you can get them to go witness.”

As fervently as he’s worked

and prayed to help North Carolina churches turn their baptisms upward,

McCutcheon admits he did not expect the change in direction to “come this

quickly.”

The numbers

In 2009 those churches that

reported their statistics on the ACP noted 26,584 baptisms. That number

includes the 1,932 baptized by Elevation Church in Mathews, and the 1,519

churches that reported no baptisms at all.

Eighteen churches reported

100 or more baptisms, and 44 churches reported 50-99. Two hundred sixty-two

reported one baptism. McCutcheon said 1,242 churches reported 1-5 baptisms and

2,761 reported 0-5 baptisms. On average, North Carolina Baptist churches

baptized six persons each.

IECS Strategy

Beyond simply tracking what

North Carolina Baptist churches are doing evangelistically, McCutcheon is

actively trying to infect them with an evangelism virus. Through his own

research and experience, and that of others, he has developed the Intentionally

Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) and has been leading churches in that

system for several years.

McCutcheon defines IECS as

“an attempt to assist pastors and churches in their own context and personalities

to obey the Great Commission and faithfully evangelize their communities in a

way that is effective for them.”

During three 8-hour days of

instruction, participants basically learn to find the evangelistic

possibilities in every aspect of their church’s life. It incorporates five

components from Acts 2:41-47 that are the anchors for teaching: evangelistic

leadership, evangelistic prayer, event evangelism, assimilation and personal

evangelism.

“If evangelism is not in the

pastor’s heart, it won’t go,” McCutcheon said.

His assimilation emphasis

often surprises people, he said. But attention to assimilating can close the

revolving door and lead to stronger discipleship.

Event evangelism includes

weekly worship. “You don’t have to change what you’re doing, just change the

priority of evangelization,” McCutcheon said. “If you’re worshiping God and a

person doesn’t know God, you’re having a wonderful experience but leaving them

out. We use words they don’t understand. We use forms they’re completely

unaccustomed to. Make your worship understandable and inviting.”

Like any good preacher,

McCutcheon has an outline featuring “P” words for teaching evangelism. He said

you need passion, and if you don’t have it, pray for it, asking God to help you

love the world as He does.

Prepare by learning

scripture and praying. Participate in witnessing and while practice doesn’t

make perfect, it “makes permanent,” he said. Persevere and praise God for

whatever He does.

Because some people are

discouraged from witnessing if their experience doesn’t result in someone

praying to receive Christ, McCutcheon loves the phrase he learned from retired

Florida pastor Bobby Welch, to “Teach your people to fall in love with fishing,

not just in catching fish.”

For churches that don’t like

“cold calling” on prospects, McCutcheon advises that “ministry in an area opens

doors like you wouldn’t believe.” One of the blessings of disaster relief

ministry is how it opens doors for evangelism among those who have been served.

Difficult days

Just six months after

McCutcheon came to North Carolina, his wife Kathy was diagnosed with a

life-threatening illness. No sooner was that conquered than cancer was

discovered. While these have been some of his most difficult personal years,

they have been among the most fruitful in terms of ministry, he said.

He and Kathy treat each day

as a gift and “live in the present” he said. He has cancelled virtually all

outside engagements, and Marty Dupree will lead the IECS training the rest of

the year.

The first IECS training in

Spanish was conducted this year, with two scheduled in Vietnamese. As equippers

are trained, IECS will be offered in local associations by request, and

eventually for an individual church.

IECS training

IECS training will be

offered at the following times and places:

Sign up for any at

www.ncbaptist.org or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5557.

August 31-Sept. 2

Carolina Association

Ebenezer Baptist Church

Hendersonville, NC

September 21-23

New River Association

New River Baptist Church

Jacksonville, NC

October 5-7

Three Forks Association

Mount Vernon Baptist Church

Boone, NC

October 26-28

South Yadkin Association

First Baptist Church

Mooresville, NC

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