Southern Baptists will unveil the general outline of a 10-year evangelistic strategy at their annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas, next month.
The new strategy "brings associations, state conventions, NAMB, and other entities into a true focus in calling churches not just to win souls but, better, showing them how," said Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, according to Baptist Press.
It will be "flexible" and "multifaceted" and geared toward the involvement of the entire denomination, both traditional and non-traditional people, explained Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page. The strategy will encompass "various styles and philosophies of evangelism and church planting, Calvinists, non-Calvinists, various people groups ethnically and various groups from the geographical areas across our country.
"Obviously, every Baptist entity is autonomous," said Page, according to BP. "But we are coming together to say here is a common direction for 10 years to equip churches and people to win the lost to Christ."
The announcement, made in recent weeks, comes as the SBC reported a drop in total baptisms for the second consecutive year. Southern Baptist churches constitute the largest Protestant denomination in the nation.
LifeWay Christian Resources' Annual Church Profile showed baptisms dropped by 1.89 percent last year to 364,826. At the same time, however, total membership of Southern Baptist churches in 2006 increased to 16.3 million members and the number of churches rose by 524, more than double the net increase from 2005.
"While it is certainly encouraging to see new Southern Baptist churches being birthed, our baptism totals once again show that we are not doing an effective job stepping up to the task of sharing the Gospel with a lost and dying world," said LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer, according to BP.
Southern Baptists this year are emphasizing prayer and spiritual awakening for their new 10-year evangelism strategy. Prayer is "our only hope," said Page.
Leading up to the annual meeting on June 12-13 is "Crossover San Antonio" where hundreds of Southern Baptists plan to share the Gospel in various events in the metropolitan area, from door-to-door evangelism to an international festival.