JEFFERSON CITY – It’s time for a family meeting. Make that four family meetings.
“Family Meeting times usually occurred when a crisis was pending and we needed to get together to prepare, assess and change the situation,” said Gary Taylor, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) evangelism director. “I’m thinking of our one-day evangelism conferences as Family Meetings.”
The regional conferences kicked off today at Calvary Baptist, Republic and continued Feb. 24 at First Baptist, Poplar Bluff, followed by meetings March 8 at Laura Street Baptist, Maryville and March 10 at First Baptist, Kirksville. Here is the crisis that necessitates calling family meetings (according to the MBC Evangelism office):
• 5.8 million people live in Missouri, 4.3 million (74 percent) without Christ;
• 2.7 million claim no religious affiliation at all;
• Less than 20 percent attend church at least once a month;
• Last year during GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing), Missouri Baptists distributed the Gospel to 750,000 homes, leaving 1.5 million unreached;
• In 1980 it took 38 Missouri Baptists to baptize one; last year, it took 56.
“The state of our state is in trouble,” Taylor said. “The physical population of Missouri is outgrowing the spiritual population. But with God’s help, we can reverse that trend. We did well last year with GPS, but we still haven’t gotten to where we need to be.”
Leading these four “family meetings” will be eight Missouri Baptist pastors, including the four pastors of the host churches: Randy Johnson, Calvary Baptist, Republic, and Eddie Bumpers, Broadway Baptist, Springfield, at the Feb. 22 conference; Bill Vail, First Baptist, Poplar Bluff, and Aaron Weibel, New Site Baptist, Monett, at the Feb. 24 conference; Paul McKim, Laura Street Baptist, Maryville, and Chris Guffey, Cornerstone Baptist, Sedalia, at the March 8 meeting; and Marty Joplin, First Baptist, Kirksville, and Monte Shinkle, Concord Baptist, Jefferson City, at the March 10 conference.
Headlining the series is Evangelist Jay Lowder out of Wichita Falls, Texas.
“Jay is a living miracle,” Taylor said. “He was raised in a religious family but he wasn’t a Christian and got into drinking and drugs in college, but it didn’t provide satisfaction for him. He literally got out a gun and had it up to his head when his roommate came back and stopped him.”
A few weeks later, a church in Wichita Falls held an evangelistic crusade and Lowder accepted Christ. Two days later, he felt God calling him to the evangelism ministry. He is now a full-time evangelist, traveling all over the world and sharing the Gospel in more than 250 crusades, rallies and conferences.
Breakout sessions will include: Giving an Effective Gospel Invitation; How to Create a Climate for Evangelism in Your Church; Minister to Others; No Home Left Behind; Sharing the Most Important Thing (Evangelism 101); and Using the Internet for Evangelism.
“I ask people to inform, encourage and challenge each other to attend the one-day conference nearest you and pray for them,” Taylor said. “We must not let our state continue to go down spiritually.” n
BRIAN KOONCE / staff writer