Evangelism and Church Planting - Part 1
For us as Southern Baptists, baptism numbers have always been important, and for good reason. They strongly correlate to our evangelistic fervor. According to the Annual Church Profile of 2012, an annual statistical report voluntarily submitted to the Southern Baptist Convention by local churches, the numbers of baptisms reported among SBC churches signaled a dire warning. Look at these numbers:
- 25% of SBC churches reported “0” baptisms
- 60% reported no youth baptisms (12-17)
- 80% reported 0-1 young baptism (18-29)
The only consistently growing age group in baptism is age five and under.
Because of these numbers, our denomination has responded in many helpful ways. In 2013, a “Pastor’s Task Force on Evangelism and Baptism Decline” was formed which formulated five timely recommendations for Southern Baptists to be more intentional in everything from personal prayer to personal evangelism. This year the 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide was introduced as a visual evangelistic conversational piece. And more specifically, here at Southeastern, we just finished our 30 days of Going—a 30 day commitment of sharing Christ daily (here for some details).
Yet, while applauding these efforts, and many others not mentioned, my intention here is to highlight one more. In three consecutive posts, the argument will be made for the importance, and even priority, of church planting as a response to our evangelism problem. Thankfully, as a denomination, we are already committed to the planting of healthy churches. But, we’re not done yet. Church planting efforts should not only continue but increase.
In the following weeks, we will first highlight some denominational studies which depict the evangelistic effectiveness of church plants. Then, we will consider the positive effects church planting has on established churches. Lastly, we will highlight some proven characteristics and practices helpful in sustaining church planting efforts.
*This post originally appeared at the Center for Great Commission Studies page of Southeastern Seminary.