FAITH strategy moves churches to meet people 'on their turf'

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)--Because many churches lack an evangelism strategy, they default to evangelistic indifference, said Gene Mims, vice president of the church resources division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Mims spoke to participants at the National FAITH Institute hosted by First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., Jan. 26-29. The FAITH Sunday school/evangelism strategy was originated by First Baptist's pastor, Bobby Welch, and now is sponsored by LifeWay and endorsed by the North American Mission Board.

Institute participants were given a chance to put into action what they learned during the Jan. 26-29 sessions, resulting in 79 professions of faith.

Mims noted that the FAITH strategy "requires that people go out into their communities and meet people where they are, on their turf."

"We can't expect people to walk into our churches and say, 'Here I am.' We have to go out to them and draw them in. That's how Jesus did it," Mims said.

Genonevo Lubaton and his wife, Purita, came from Los Angeles for the institute. "I am the pastor of a Filipino congregation and I see so much potential with FAITH," said Lubaton, who leads Faith Calvary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. "I am excited to go back and see what FAITH can do for our congregation."

FAITH utilizes a church's Sunday School organization to draw seekers and new believers. Once in a church, they can be taught the basics of Christian faith through the regular Sunday School. FAITH is being used by churches in 49 states and in 13 countries, encompassing four language translations of FAITH materials.

Welch said FAITH's effectiveness as an evangelism strategy begins with what it does for the people involved in the classes. "These folks get excited about what God is doing," he said. "They begin to see the world as God sees it. They get concerned about their families, their friends, the people they work with. They get a real heart for lost people. They want these people to know Jesus."

That enthusiasm was evident during the outreach effort that concluded the institute. Participants completed 401 visits and were able to make 163 Gospel presentations. They recorded 79 professions of faith, added 26 to Sunday School rolls and another 173 to prospect rolls.

"Evangelism is what drives us as a church because that's what's on God's heart," Welch said of Jesus' Great Commission. "It's impossible to make disciples if you don't do evangelism."

The next National FAITH Institute is Sept. 27-30 at First Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. For more information, go to www.lifeway.com/faith.


(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: A TEST OF FAITH, CAMP’S CHALLENGES, PARTING WITH PRAYER and MIMS’ MESSAGE.

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