Hammond: No excuses, it’s time for evangelism

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Thomas Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church in Alpharetta, delivers the President’s Address Monday night, Nov. 13, at the GBC annual meeting. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index

LAWRENCVILLE — In a president’s address brimming with resolve to boost evangelism efforts, Thomas Hammond urged Georgia Baptists to follow Christ’s example.

Preaching out of Matthew 9, Hammond outlined the importance of being imitators of Jesus.

“He made His priority clear to all of us,” said Hammond. “That was to seek and save the lost.”

Christ, Hammond explained, sought out the very ones who needed to hear His message. Sometimes, that included people who spent time around him. Jesus’ own disciples, Hammond added, could often use a refresher in sharing the Gospel. That comparison more than describes churches heavy on enrollment but light on willingness to talk about the Christ.

Being active in ministry serves as its own school, Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Alpharetta, stated.

“As you and I, ministers of Christ, we should be looking how to disciple believers. And not just believers, but the lost.”

Hammond dispelled the thinking of soul-winning as one-dimensional in terms of personal spiritual growth. “Evangelism teaches us how to grow in every area of our faith,” he asserted.

Through evangelism, Jesus showing His true nature

Christ, he added, revealed His true nature through evangelism.

“[Through] acts of ministry, Jesus did several things. He established Himself as the Messiah. Think of the time John the Baptist was in jail and having doubts. He sent his own disciples to ask if Jesus was the one.”

Christ’s response spoke to what others had verified with their own eyes. The mute spoke. The blind could see. Those who couldn’t walk before, now could.

“Jesus substantiated the message He preached,” continued Hammond, as opposed to the Sadducees and Pharisees. “When Nicodemus came to the Messiah at night. He said he knew Jesus had come from God. Why? Because no one could do the miracles and signs He did unless God was with him.”

In terms of witnessing, believers today can slip into the same perspective Jesus’ disciples struggled with at times, he pointed out.

“When Jesus saw people [in need], he was moved to compassion,” Hammond said. The disciples, he explained, could often complain about the size of the crowd or seeing them as a distraction.

The Alpharetta pastor then brought on stage an example of looking at others with Jesus’ perspective.

Be the answer

“There are 428,000 children in foster care in the American foster system. We have an epidemic, but we have the solution in the body of Christ. We can remove this problem from this state and be the answer.”

He then interviewed foster parents Scott and Paula Walker, members at First Alpharetta. Both testified to the challenges and rewards of being foster parents, as well as the support through their home church.

“This is my life,” Paula good-naturedly side-commented as a toddler in their care explored the stage. “But, when we needed help, someone would send stuff. People would cover us in prayer. They’d volunteer to babysit our [biological] kids. I never feel alone.”

Hammond concluded with a challenge and bit of a grammar lesson for those in attendance.

“You are the light. The light,” he stated. “If you don’t shine, no one else will.

“We must feel what Jesus felt. Scripture says when he saw others, He had compassion. He was moved. That literally means to hurt in your gut.”

With the release of another survey or study, the Church’s impact is revealed to have lessened. Hammond, for one, has had enough of it.

“I’m tired of looking at the numbers and seeing them low. Baptism figures don’t have to keep going down. I know the culture is changing, but the gospel is the power to change.

“People don’t have to be lost. Let’s win Georgia together!”

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