What Are They Doing That You Are NOT?
by Marcus Merritt
In the book of Acts, the burgeoning church multiplied rapidly, yet today most Southern Baptist Churches are not growing. In fact, seventy percent are either plateaud, or are declining. Nearly twenty five percent of the SBC’s 44,000 churches did not baptize anyone last year. That is not good news. If seventy percent of our churches are not growing, what makes the other thirty percent different? What are they doing?
While there is no magical formula for evangelism, research shows that most of the growing churches have some things in common. These churches employ a strategy that includes the following elements.
- They hold four evangelistic events per year.
An evangelistic event is any gathering that is open to the entire community, and where the gospel is shared. The most popular evangelistic events are revivals and Vacation Bible School. However, wild game suppers, block parties, judgment houses, classic car shows, etc., are all examples of evangelistic events. By holding just one event per quarter, and registering everyone who attends, a church can greatly multiply its evangelistic opportunities.
- They train their congregation in Personal Evangelism.
Prior to each evangelistic event these churches equip their membership to share their faith. They utilize a variety of soul-winning methods. For example, before the church holds VBS, teachers might be trained how to share their faith using an Evangecube. Other methods of training include using tracts, learning to share one’s personal testimony, or using a marked New Testament. Just imagine your church’s fall festival with dozens of trained witnesses mingling with the unchurched attendees!
- They have a consistent weekly visitation program.
The third element involves a commitment to outreach. Most visitation programs fail due to a lack of prospects. However, by holding four events per year, churches will have dozens and dozens of new prospects every quarter. I have personally been involved with classic cars shows that yielded hundreds of prospects. Further, by training the membership in a variety of soul winning methods, they will be prepared to lead prospects to faith in Christ, as the Holy Spirit opens those doors. Even if no one comes to faith in Christ at the actual event, subsequent visitation to the homes of those prospects often yields much fruit.
- They assimilate new believers into Sunday School.
Finally, growing churches know the value of Sunday School/Open Groups. By assimilating new converts into a small group the chances of keeping them is greatly enhanced. In a joint study between Thom Rainer and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was discovered that churches only keep nineteen percent of new converts who are not enrolled in Sunday School. But, enroll them in Sunday School and churches keep eighty-five to ninety percent. Remember that Jesus told us to make disciples – not just converts.
That’s what they are doing – but what are you doing? Your State Missionaries at the Georgia Baptist Convention stand ready to assist you in any of the above areas. Please call or email us for more information. Our services are made possible thanks to your Cooperative Program gifts.