Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders are calling on churches and their members to take part in a nationwide effort to have 1 million gospel conversations by June 2018.
The GC (Gospel Conversations) Challenge is a joint effort of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), LifeWay Christian Resources and Southern Baptist state conventions.
Churches may make a pledge toward the goal of 1 million by visiting the Gospel Conversations Challenge website at gcchallenge.com. The website also includes resources related to prayer and evangelism that are available for download.
Milton A. Hollifield Jr., who serves as executive director-treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), is among the denominational leaders across the country encouraging churches to take part in the challenge.
“Intercessory prayer and sharing the gospel are essential in changing the trend for baptism declines in Southern Baptist churches,” Hollifield said.
Baptisms in Southern Baptist churches have been declining for several years, according to data from Annual Church Profile reports that are compiled by LifeWay in cooperation with Baptist state conventions.
Nationally, baptisms reported by Southern Baptist churches declined 4.89 percent from 2015 to 2016. In North Carolina, baptisms declined by 2.9 percent during that same time period.
This past summer, NAMB President Kevin Ezell said the SBC needs a “Gospel Conversation Resurgence” if declining baptism numbers are to turn around.
“If one member from each of our 47,000 churches shares the gospel each day, it would result in over 17 million gospel conversations in a year,” Ezell told messengers at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. “Can you imagine what would happen if Southern Baptists had that many gospel conversations?”
The Gospel Conversations website also includes a section of brief, one-minute testimonial videos from pastors, church members and denominational leaders in which they share about a recent opportunity they had to share their faith. Individuals are also encouraged to upload their own videos to the site as well.
One of the videos includes a testimony from Hollifield about sharing the gospel with a hotel employee during a recent trip.
Josh Reed, who serves as the BSC senior consultant for adult evangelism and discipleship, said hearing stories from the videos of how others have shared their faith can make sharing the gospel less intimidating. “We can leverage stories to encourage and inspire others to share their faith,” Reed said.
Hollifield added that fulfilling the Great Commission mandate to make disciples starts with having a gospel conversation.
“Evangelism is the beginning step in making disciples, but it is not the final step,” Hollifield said. “We’ve got to place a strong emphasis on reaching lost people with the message of the gospel.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Information from Baptist Press was used in this report.)