The Southwest Region of the Florida Baptist Convention (FBC) is one of the most diverse regions in all of Florida. It varies in ethnicities, religion, and financial makeup. These various factors bring many challenges to pastors and the churches that they serve. But, at the State Evangelism Conference that took place at Colonial Oaks Baptist Church on Monday, April 29th, they all had one common mission – to reach just “one”.
“You can win more people to Jesus, you just have to make up your mind to do it,” said Wayne Briant, Southwest Regional Catalyst for the FBC. “Evangelism is not a church growth strategy, it’s obedience. Soul-winning still works and this is something that every church can do.”
Included in the lineup of speakers for the Southwest Regional State Evangelism Conference were: Dr. Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola; Dr. Hayes Wicker, former pastor of First Baptist Church Naples; and Timothy Pigg, pastor of Fellowship Church in Immokalee and Ave Maria.
“These three men went to churches that were plateauing and declining and turned them into evangelistic, soul-winning churches,” said Briant. “They are the three most effective pastors and represent some of the finest evangelistic churches in our region.”
Traylor spoke about how personal commitment to evangelism begins in the pulpit with the pastor. “If you are a gospel preacher, you are one that continually shares the gospel…If you are going to be a soul-winner, you are going to need to go into the mines for someone because someone went into the mines for you.” He later shared that in his 65 years, “this is the toughest ground we have ever had to plow.”
Wicker challenged the over 200 in attendance to be a true follower of Jesus Christ and not just a fan. Stating that “we don’t preach theology, we live theology.” He continued by saying that “this job [of evangelism] is too big for a few and too good to only tell a few…There is an urgency. Evangelism must be the priority of the church.”
Pigg challenged pastors to create an “environment of evangelism” within their churches and to be “a people who have a heart of worship.” He continued by stating that “an environment of evangelism comes from a life of sacrifice.” Pigg ended his session by calling the attendees to remember the mercies of God and to become “completely saturated and captivated with God.”
In a brief time of Q&A, the speakers were asked what things they do to stay focused on the task when they get tired. They all singled it down to several things – a supportive wife, a time of spiritual retreat, a group of godly men to pray and rally around them, and daily quiet time.
Attendees left the event encouraged and with a “Who’s Your One?” set of materials to challenge their church and themselves to make a commitment in reaching just “one” with the good news of the gospel.