Javier Chavez, pastor of Amistad Cristiana in Gainesville, baptizes a young girl in May of 2019 in Lake Lanier near Flowery Branch. The joint baptism service with two other churches was so heavily attended that more than 80 people were unable to witness it for lack of parking. AMISTAD CRISTIANA/Special
DULUTH — While there was much to cause concern over the recent Southern Baptist Convention ACP report, one bright spot for Georgia was that it led all state conventions in the largest numerical increase in baptisms from the previous year.
“This is a reflection of the commitment of our pastors to reaching Georgia with the Gospel,” said Executive Director W. Thomas Hammond, Jr. “It shows they are focused and passionate in leading their churches to reaching their community and mission field.”
In 2018 Georgia Baptist Convention churches reported 17,740 baptisms, a figure that hadn’t been seen in nearly a century. The total for last year – 19,641 – reflected an increase of 1,901 baptisms.
Tom Crites, state missionary in Georgia Baptist Research and Development, told The Index those figures show growth in baptisms among older age groups. While percentages among children up to 11 years old and 12-17 dipped slightly by 4 percent, a 2 percent increased came among young adults (18-29) as well as those 30 years old and up.
Before adding his current role as Church Strengthening lead strategist, Levi Skipper originally joined the Georgia Baptist Mission Board last spring as Evangelism consultant, a position he continues to fill temporarily. He credited pastors as well as Georgia Baptist Evangelism consultants working in the field.
“There has been a heavy emphasis on training pastors to develop an evangelistic culture in their churches with an extreme leaning toward personal evangelism,” he said.
Training and resources like No Sweat Evangelism have helped prepare churches for questions that come with a world of uncertainty, Skipper added. He further noted that those steps are building a coaching network for pastors that so far has brought great reviews.
“Thinking that people don’t want to hear about the Gospel is a false concept. They are more ready than ever to talk about spiritual matters. Even if you look at secular leadership books, some kind of spiritual component is there,” said Skipper.
“In America, we have a front row seat to the depravity of man. Whether it’s COVID or protests, any kind of suffering or brokenness is a launching pad to talk about Jesus. He’s the one who reconciles us to God, but also to each other.”