ORLANDO– Four Florida Baptist leaders recently preached biblical messages urging attendees at the Challenge 2025 Gathering to spur their churches on to a renewed evangelistic fervor in reaching individuals for Christ.
At the gathering held Feb. 28 at First Baptist Church in Orlando, close to 1,000 Florida Baptist church leaders focused on how to reach Florida’s 22 million people with the gospel.
Brumback: ‘Be more like Jesus’
Using Matthew 9:35-38 as his biblical text, Alan Brumback, lead pastor at First Naples, stated that the “world’s greatest problem is lostness” and he encouraged those gathered to “see and feel” the lostness around them and to “pray for and chase after the opportunity of a lifetime” to share Christ with lost individuals.
To motivate church members in their evangelistic commitment, Brumback stated that leaders must “model it” because evangelistic fervor is “caught as much as it is taught;” must “simplify it,” setting “low threshold opportunities” for people to share a gospel witness; and must “celebrate it,” by telling “stories about what God is doing through ordinary people.”
He said, “If you’re not on mission for Jesus, you’re not following the word of God.” He asked, “Do you want to reach your community?” and answered, “Be more like Jesus.”
Green: ‘Don’t forget …. Give thanks’
Focusing on the account of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus in Luke 17:11-19, Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, stated that “ministry is messy, and ministry is challenging.”
Green asked attendees if they had led their churches unintentionally to take a path that omitted certain individuals rather than welcoming all individuals to hear a gospel message. He called on Florida Baptists to welcome those who had been forsaken, forgotten or forfeited by society.
Believers, he said, have an opportunity to bring others to faith in Jesus. “Jesus Christ doesn’t give up or quit” in seeking those who are lost, and believers must follow Jesus’ lead.
“Don’t forget where you were and who you were before Jesus. Give thanks for where you are and who you are because of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Scroggins: ‘Be clear’ about gospel message
Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, shared three ideas with pastors and lay leaders on how to reach the lost through personal evangelism.
Reading from Acts 14: 1-7, Scroggins told attendees, “In a world that wishes we would stay silent, we must be clear about the message of the gospel … be committed to speaking because no one will be saved unless someone else shares the gospel … and be confident in Jesus regardless of the results.” He urged Florida Baptists to “wear the uniform well” so the lost may “see [us as] a bunch of beggars telling other beggars where they found bread, and that bread is Jesus.”
Robinson: Share faith with passion, gentleness, respect
Jeff Robinson, lead pastor of Grace Fellowship in West Palm Beach, closed the Challenge 2025 gathering with a message titled Reaching Through Apologetics. Reading from 1 Peter 3:15, Robinson emphasized the importance of sharing the faith with passion but also with gentleness and respect. He then offered four different undercutting defeaters to be used when faced with common arguments against Christianity and the church.
The burden of proof for God, for example, doesn’t have to fall on the believer. The believer can ask the other person to prove that there isn’t God. In discussing faith with atheists, Christians can use the undercutting defeater that reason didn’t happen by chance. When facing the argument that the church is full of hypocrites, believers can share that Jesus too said there are hypocrites in the church but that the existence of hypocrites shouldn’t dictate where you go and what you do. Finally, because of Jesus stepping into the scene, the Greco-Roman culture of adultery, pedophilia and killing of infants was abandoned for the betterment of society.
By Margaret Colson and Keila Diaz