By Karen Willoughby
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) —Add a sing-a-long to the activities planned by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists prior to the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting.
The COSBE sing-a-long — from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, June 10 — will be held in Forum J of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
The evangelists will continue to host a Sunday morning worship service and have a Tuesday business meeting in conjunction with the June 11-12 SBC annual meeting.
The sing-a-long of favorite hymns and worship choruses will be led by Southern Baptist music evangelists, Sammy Tippit, COSBE’s president, told Baptist Press.
“We welcome all Southern Baptists in town for the annual meeting” to the sing-a-long and to worship at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at McElwain Baptist Church, 4445 Montevallo Road in Birmingham, Tippit said. “Junior Hill will bring the main message and Luke Hockenjos will give his testimony. Several Southern Baptist music evangelists will be leading in worship.”
COSBE’s Tuesday business meeting will include the election of officers, a financial report, and president’s overview of activities during the last year as well as plans for the future.
“We are a network of evangelists who come together under the umbrella of the Southern Baptist Convention, but we have no funding agency,” Tippit said. “Our evangelists pay for everything, and that has gotten very costly.”
A two-day evangelists’ summit in February brought together about 100 individuals interested in the ministry of evangelism to Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Oklahoma, where they discussed a national plan of action on evangelism, according to an article by Will Hall published Feb. 18 in Baptist Press.
Discussion about the summit will be part of Tippit’s report. One of the first things he did as COSBE president was rebuild bridges with the North American Mission Board, which in its restructuring several years ago defunded the national evangelists’ network.
“NAMB was really excited about the summit and put up the money for it,” Tippit said. “We’re very grateful for that. We need a church, association, state convention, or national entity to help us with funding.”
The summit responded to other concerns Tippit has focused on over the last year, including why evangelists aren’t being used as much as they were in previous decades and how to change that.
Tippit gave a summation of the summit’s discussion to Kevin Ezell and his assistant, Jim Law, executive director of NAMB’s evangelism and leadership group, and will bring a similar report during the evangelists’ Tuesday business meeting, which starts with a $10 per person lunch at noon June 11 at the Redmont Inn, 2101 Fifth Avenue North in Birmingham, less than a half-mile from the convention center.
Identifying younger evangelists and bringing them into the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists has been another element in Tippit’s first-year vision. As many as 10 younger evangelists participated in the February summit, and Tippit plans to continue development of younger evangelists in his second year as COSBE president.
A post-summit retreat for evangelists provided time to fellowship, pray for each other, and pray for the state of evangelism across the SBC, Tippit said.
Tippit noted several ways technology is being used to enhance evangelists’ ministry, which also has been among his first-year issues as COSBE president.
Keith Fordham has a video series to help churches prepare for an evangelistic outreach, while Jon Reed has created an app that helps churches pray, organize, and share Christ.
“Both of these have had great results,” Tippit said. So has the book he published last summer, “Unashamed: A Memoir of Dangerous Faith,” which includes QR codes embedded in the text that link the reader to relevant videos. “The responses we’ve gotten are way beyond whatever else we’ve done,” he added.
Tippit said he plans to carry two items from his first year’s “to do” list into his second year: discussion of technology’s usefulness and identifying younger as well as ethnic evangelists.
“If we’re going to reach America for Christ we need to look like America,” Tippit said. “When God got ready to move [in New Testament times], there were innovations in place that were used to bring the good news of Jesus.”
He referred specifically to a road built by Romans — similar in concept to today’s internet highway — that allowed greater numbers of people than ever before to travel to and from Jerusalem, and another road that connected the Roman world with trade markets in the East. These roads, both of which connected in Antioch, were built 200 or more years before the birth of Christ, ready to be used for the expansion of the Gospel message, Tippit said.
In addition to the sing-a-long, worship service and business meeting, a rotating roster of evangelists will be at the COSBE booth Monday through Wednesday near the LifeWay display in the convention’s exhibit hall.
Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent with Baptist Press.