TYRONE – While baptisms have been declining precipitously in Southern Baptist life in recent years, Keith Moore, pastor of Dogwood Baptist Church, is seeking to fan the flame of evangelism in his church as well as in the Tyrone/Peachtree City area southwest of Atlanta.
In a recent interview with Moore he cited the increasing secularization of our society as one of the reasons for the declining baptisms. He explained, “The Apostle Paul’s words come to mind here, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12, CBS). So outsiders, in general, might be more resistant to the Gospel than ever before in my life. They are certainly more resistant to the church.”
Moore doesn’t intend to let the culture dampen his enthusiasm for reaching the lost. He commented, “We as pastors and churches have been put here by our Lord for such a time as this. We must not shrink back! My friend Mark Miller gave me some language that applies. He says, ‘we need to go over here and drag this thing off the ‘too hard’ pile and get to work on it!
Moore continued, “Over these 30-plus years at Dogwood, we have had periods of evangelistic and numerical growth, plateau, and decline. The times of decline came when I lost focus on God’s biblical operating system for church health.
“It is easy to lose this focus. The biggest problem is me. When I lose focus so does my church. When I focus on leading the church to fulfill God’s purpose of making more and better Christ-followers who love God and love people, our church grows in new believers and better believers.
“Dogwood Church has never ‘lapsed’ into evangelism”
“We have to exert a greater percentage of our time, money prayer, energy, and focus on evangelism to keep it going. The other purposes of God – worship, ministry discipleship, and fellowship – seem to naturally ‘want’ to get done. Dogwood Church has never ‘lapsed’ into evangelism and neither have I personally.
“I think the answer to why Dogwood and some other churches fail to reach out to the outsiders in our communities is that we neglect to set aside time on our calendar for personal evangelism. Johnny Hunt, in his testimony at the SBC Pastor’s Conference in Phoenix, exhorted us to set aside time in our weekly calendar for personal evangelism. I am grateful for his challenging words. Every one of my mentors in the ministry modeled and taught me to do the same thing.
“I have four hours on Monday afternoon set aside on my calendar to do personal evangelism. If I fail to schedule it ahead of time I will lapse out of doing personal evangelism. Everything else will clamor for my attention and the attention of my church.”
When asked if he thought a marketing mentality had become a substitute for an evangelism strategy in most churches, Moore replied, “I think marketing and evangelism go hand in hand. Dogwood needs both in order to reach the unchurched and unsaved people in our ministry area. We see marketing or advertising and evangelism as part of the same ministry process.
“The unreached adults in our ministry area are so busy and have so many voices clamoring for their attention that we must advertise effectively in order to get their attention. Our marketing/advertising invites people to “Come and see” where they then hear the Gospel. It also serves to enhance the receptivity of the unreached people in our community so that as our members “Go Tell” the Good News, they find a better hearing. Our problem in the past is that we have not done enough marketing and advertising to be effective.”
10 steps to reverse spiritual decline
The Index asked the Dogwood Pastor how Georgia Baptist churches could reverse the spiritual decline evident in our culture. He responded by saying:
- “We plant as many Great Commission/Great Commandment churches as we can.
- We revitalize as many unhealthy churches as we can.
- We lead as many people to Jesus as we can.
- We baptize as many people as we can into meaningful membership in our churches.
- We build them up to maturity in Christ.
- We train them for a ministry in their church family.
- We send them out on mission to share the Gospel where they live, work, and play.
- We pray like crazy for God to make it happen and to bring spiritual awakening.
- We create and implement practical ministry processes in our churches to make sure all these things are happening.
- We never quit.”
“Don’t take the pan off the fire before things have time to start frying”
Moore added, “My friend, Ron Barker, once told me, “Keith, don’t take the pan off the fire before things have time to start frying!” I think we must do these things that we already know to do in the power of the Holy Spirit – and don’t quit.
“Ron Lewis, church growth specialist, once told me that our mission is to enrich the lives of people and increase the size of heaven! When we lead people to saving faith in Jesus we enrich their lives here as well as enrich life in our society and increase the size of heaven. Thinking on these things does motivate me to stay at it.”
One of the things Keith Moore is doing is hosting an “Every Believer A Witness Pastor Equipping Conference” on Thursday, November 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Dogwood Church Campus. All pastors and their staff are invited.
Moore stated, “My friend, Dennis Nunn, will train the pastors to preach a 7-week series of sermons in order to raise the value, understanding and practice of personal evangelism with every one of our members. Dennis is effective at showing our members that evangelism is something that they can easily do.
“I am planning to lead our church thought this series the first seven Sundays of 2018. Dennis has a follow-up process to help work this lifestyle into the souls and lives of our members. We are doing this as part of our evangelism process leading up to what we are praying will be a great harvest of new believers at Easter 2018.”
Baptist and all evangelical pastors are urged to attend this conference. For more information go to: www.everybelieverawitness.org
Moore concluded, “I wonder what might happen to our ministry area if we all conducted this evangelism initiative simultaneously in January-February 2018?