By Kay Harms
Pastors and church leaders from about 10 Arizona Southern Baptist churches along with three directors of missions and Eddy Pearson, AZSBC evangelism facilitator, attended Engage 24 in Las Vegas, Feb. 26-27.
Engage 24, hosted by the North American Mission Board at Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, focused on encouraging pastors and church leaders to create and foster a culture of evangelism in their churches. Practical tools for accomplishing this evangelistic culture were offered, but, primarily, the messages were inspirational.
“It’s on you. You’ve got to call the play in order for your church to get involved in evangelism. That’s the message we heard in a nutshell,” said Pearson. He added that the event was primarily motivational, not training.
Five Southern Baptist pastors from throughout the country provided tips and motivation from their own experiences. Sitting around circular tables to nurture conversation, attendees heard individually from Ted Traylor (lead pastor at Olive Baptist Church, Pensacola, Fla.), John Meador (lead pastor at First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas), Tim Dowdy (lead pastor for Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church, McDonough, Ga.), Hal Seed (senior pastor at New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California) and Frank S. Page (at the time serving as president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee).
During the final session, attendees heard from all five men in a question-and-answer panel, for which attendees had been encouraged to send in questions via text message throughout the day. The discussion covered topics such as making time for family, keeping a balance within pastors’ lives, how small churches can go about engaging their communities, attracting volunteers, and handling sabbaticals.
Although many topics were discussed, the necessity of evangelism set the tone for the event, reminding the attendees that evangelistic efforts needed to prioritize those outside the church, as well as inside.
“Evangelism is the life blood of the church,” Traylor said. “We must change from an inward focus to an outward focus. If we don’t, then we’re coming to death in the church. Evangelism is essential to the future of the church of having new people want to know Christ and welcome them into the family.”
The next Engage 24 workshop will be March 22-23, 2019, in Philadelphia.
Alexandra Applegate, writing for Baptist Press, also contributed to this story.