Thomas Hammond, president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, has issued a challenge, thrown down the gauntlet, and called for all Georgia Baptists to be on deck for “The Big Invite.” He wants you and your church to join 3,600 Georgia Baptist churches in one united effort to invite one million Georgians to be in church on Easter Sunday, April 16th.
LifeWay Research has discovered that 83 percent of Americans would attend church if invited. This Easter we could have more people in Georgia Baptist churches than ever and more souls saved than ever on one Sunday. You must begin to plan your strategy for “The Big Invite” now.
Christian Index editor J. Gerald Harris is interviewing our four vice presidents to find out how they are preparing to make this Easter the most significant day in Georgia Baptist history. The following interview is with First Vice President Jim Perdue, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins.
The Christian Index: Our Convention President, Thomas Hammond, has issued a big challenge for Georgia Baptists – to visit one million homes in order to invite people to church on Easter Sunday. What do you think of that bodacious goal?
Jim Perdue: I am grateful for the leadership and vision of our president, Dr. Thomas Hammond. Sometimes I think it’s important to have simple reminders. The truth is, a personal invitation is still the best way to get people to come to church. It’s better than social media, mass marketing, mail outs, billboards, or any other type of advertisement.
An invitation to church is powerful, especially if it’s from a friend. Imagine if everyone just decided to bring one person with them on Easter Sunday. God only knows the Kingdom impact, how neighborhoods and cities could change, and how many would come to faith in Christ.
I believe Georgia Baptists will respond to the challenge of inviting one million homes to worship on Easter Sunday. If pastors get behind this vision and lead by example, I believe this could be the greatest Easter Sunday many churches have ever experienced.
The Index: What would you say to pastors about joining the effort to reach one million homes with the “Big Invite”?
Jim Perdue: First of all, pastors need to lead by example. It’s easy to become isolated when you are in ministry. You work at the church, you worship at the church, and you are always around “church” people. Pastors must be intentional about reaching out to people in their neighborhoods, on their children’s ball teams, and out in the community.
I would say this specifically to pastors: if you are not willing to lead your church in inviting others and impacting your community, you are missing an incredible opportunity on Easter Sunday. Step out in faith, challenge your people, lead by example, share your story of inviting others, and watch God work!
The Index: How many homes do you think members of Second Baptist can reach out to in this effort?
Jim Perdue: There are approximately 20,000 homes within a three-mile radius of Second Baptist church. I am going to challenge our people to touch 10 percent of those homes. I’m going to ask that we reach out to at least 2,000 homes in and around our community. This would be an effective way to connect with people in our community in addition to the other ways we are already seeking to connect with them.
The Index: Do you have any idea how you will mobilize your people to visit these homes?
Jim Perdue: This is something that must be approached systematically and strategically. You can’t just stand up in the pulpit one day and tell people to go to 2,000 homes.
I believe we will start with the homes closest to our church as well as the homes where our members are currently located. If we ask our members to go door-to-door in their own neighborhoods, we could see immediate impact.
Also, this year our “word” and “theme” for the year is “Impact.” I will talk specifically about how we can impact our neighbors and the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will challenge our people not just to invite others, but also to share the gospel and call for a response. It’s great to invite people to church, but we also want to know how to introduce them to Jesus!
The Index: How many did you have in worship last Easter? Will you set an attendance goal for this Easter?
Jim Perdue: This past Easter we had over 2,500 in attendance over two services. We did something brand new in 2016. We had an Easter Eve Service. This allowed many families to worship with us who may be traveling to see extended family on Easter morning.
I always have an attendance goal in mind. However, I rarely set “public” attendance goals for our church. I challenge our people to invite others and ask them to do their best. But I firmly believe, if the leadership and people of Second Baptist (and Georgia Baptist pastors and churches) get behind the vision of The Big Invite, we will see even more in our churches this Easter than we did last year.