Southern Baptist Convention Creates New Evangelism Group to Equip Pastors, Church Plants

Small groups of messengers pray at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting.
Small groups of messengers pray at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. | (Photo: Baptist Press/Paul W. Lee)

The Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board has announced the creation of a new evangelism and leadership group meant to help pastors and church plants.

NAMB named Jim Law, executive pastor at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia, a megachurch with approximately 6,000 regular weekly attendance, as the new group's first executive director.

"I want to help make evangelism the top priority and help pastors lead their people in that direction," said Law in a statement released Sunday.

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Law also stated that he believed younger pastors are among "the sharpest leaders we have" in the SBC, expressing optimism that the new group will aid them in their ministries.

"They are our future. We need to start investing in them more and give them seats around the table. That is one of my priorities," continued Law.

"We won't have a denomination tomorrow if we don't develop these young leaders. We need their enthusiasm in the SBC."

The new group will, among other things, have a national evangelism team comprised of North American pastors who will help make new resources for churches to utilize when evangelizing.

According to NAMB, these new resources will include expanded equipping events through the Timothy-Barnabus ministry that will focus on particular areas of pastoral leadership. 

An organization that focuses on multiple issues including poverty, disaster relief, and foster care, NAMB stated in their announcement that they saw this as a "new effort in evangelism."

In June, NAMB President Kevin Ezell told the messengers at the SBC's annual meeting in Dallas, Texas that his board was looking to improve evangelism efforts.

Ezell, who has served as head of NAMB since 2010, told those gathered at the annual meeting that he has made church-planting a major focus of his efforts.

"Seven years ago, we began a new journey and started a laser-focus on church planting," said Ezell at the June meeting, noting that church plants baptize more people per attendee than do established churches. "That is the New Testament model and we believe it's still the very best strategy for evangelism today."

Ezell also noted that NAMB was increasing the standards for its church-planting assessment process, explaining that the SBC "must not focus on quantity" but rather it "must focus on quality."

"We are determined not to lower our standards. We are not going to waiver on our desire for excellence," added Ezell.

Last year, the American Culture & Faith Institute released a study showing that American churches are not emphasizing evangelism.

An organization headed by Barna Group founder George Barna, the ACFI, noted last December that a decreasing number of churches "emphasize and equip people for evangelism these days, and the results are obvious and undeniable."

"The implications of ignoring gospel outreach — especially among children, who are the most receptive audience to the gospel — are enormous," stated ACFI.

"All the 'church growth' strategies in the world cannot compensate for the absence of an authentic transmission of the good news of what Jesus Christ has done for humanity."

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