North Carolina is now home to more than 300 language and ethnic groups according to Chuck Register, executive leader for church planting and missions partnerships for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC).
“Ladies and gentlemen, keep in mind: God is bringing the nations to North Carolina,” Register said. Some of these groups who have come here “have never heard the name Jesus; they have no idea who our Messiah happens to be.”
The report was one of several presented to the BSC’s executive committee in their April 10 meeting in Cary. The committee’s agenda included reports from board committees and convention staff as well as personal testimonies of impacting lostness in the state.
The BSC launched “North Carolina People Group Identification” (NCPGI) system in January to help identify ethnic and language groups who are unreached by the gospel. Some groups are both unreached and unengaged, meaning no church planting ministry has been started for them. Some have been identified sufficiently for churches to begin engaging them with the gospel.
NCPGI is an integral part of the convention’s new strategy focused on impacting lostness through disciple making. The N.C. program used a model developed by the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia to identify people groups in Washington, D.C., Register said. It is being implemented in North Carolina by a man who worked with the D.C. effort.
So far NCPGI is underway in the Triangle, Triad and Metro Charlotte population centers, though the findings have just begun to scratch the surface, he said. If successful, the effort will be extended to all eight population centers in the state where pockets of lostness exist.
After the initial step to identify people groups through online research, Register said the second step involves “putting people on the ground who go into an area and conduct one-on-one discussions with people who speak English as a second language.”
The third step is for N.C. Baptist churches to begin engaging those unreached people groups with the gospel according to Register. “In some unreached people groups already discovered, we are ready for your church and churches like yours to begin to engage these people with the gospel,” he said.
The goal is not just to engage unreached people with the gospel. “We want to engage that people group to the point where we gather together cluster leaders and birth ethnic church plants in North Carolina to reach the ethnic people groups we’re discovering,” Register said. When they talk to pastors of churches, convention staff will be able to help the pastor know how to reach English-speaking people in the neighborhood, but also people in unreached/unengaged people groups who may be nearby.
In response to an executive committee request last year, Register presented findings of a study of 339 churches planted in the state since 2009. He said 89 percent of those churches continue to be active in the BSC and support the Cooperative Program.
The committee also heard a Greensboro pastor report on the ministry of Baptists on Mission (or North Carolina Baptist Men) in the Greensboro area following a recent ice storm. Lawrence E. Clapp, pastor of South Elm Baptist Church, said the March 7 ice storm left thousands of area residents without electricity, Around 650 volunteers set up an operations center in his church.
As the volunteers distributed water and removed downed trees, they helped between 450 and 500 families, Clapp said. One man led 30 people to faith in Christ as they gave out water, adding to that a total of 51 people prayed to receive Christ as Savior. “Countless others were pointed to area churches,” he said. In a related matter, Brian Davis, associate executive director-treasurer, introduced the website for the 2014 North Carolina Missions Offering (ncmissionsoffering.org), using the theme “Choose Now.” This year’s offering has a goal of $2.1 million. The majority of the funds raised will support Baptists on Mission and church planting.
Executive Committee member Chris Hawks shared his experiences using a new evangelistic tool promoted by the BSC called The Story, which gives an overview of the Bible’s story of God’s dealing with people, beginning with creation and moving to the second coming of Christ.
Hawks, pastor of Second Baptist Church, Hamlet, said he used the material to lead a teenager to faith in Christ. “We think it’s a game changer in how we present Christ,” he said.
Wanda Dellinger reported that she has begun discipling two women in her neighborhood. “It is not rocket science,” she said. “You have to know people before you can engage them.”
If you would like more information on any of the reports provided to the executive committee, please contact Brian Davis at [email protected]. For more information on the convention’s strategy, Impacting Lostness Through Disciple-making, please visit ncbaptist.org and select the tab titled “strategy.”