Robert Smith Jr., Danny Forshee tell Georgia Baptists sharing Christ is just natural to believers


CONYERS, Ga. — For  1.4 million Georgia Baptists to be successful in getting the gospel into every home in the state, they simply need to do what should come natural to all believers — tell others about Jesus.

That was a major theme of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s Called to Witness evangelism conference that kicked off  Sunday evening at First Baptist Church in Conyers.

“Once you fall in love with Jesus, you can’t contain it,” said Robert Smith Jr., professor of preaching at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School.  “You can’t confine it. It’s just a natural response to tell somebody else about Jesus. You may not know anything about Greek or Hebrew or this or that, but you know Jesus."

Smith, one of two preachers who spoke Sunday evening, challenged more than 400 people gathered in the Conyers First Baptist sanctuary to be bold in sharing their faith, regardless of how much or how little training they’ve had in evangelism.

The state's Southern Baptist churches have seen huge gains in the area of evangelism in the past year, surpassing 20,000 baptisms for the first time since 2017.

Steve Foster, a Georgia Baptist Mission Board evangelism consultant, said the numbers released Friday represent a more than 30% increase  in baptisms in 2023 and a more than 90% increase since 2020.

Signs of spiritual revival have been popping up in communities across Georgia with huge numbers of people making commitments to Christ in evangelistic outreaches. One of the largest instances was in October when some 1,600 people responded to the gospel during a four-day crusade in the south Georgia town of Baxley. But the Index has documented a year-long series of mass salvations, some measured in dozens, others in hundreds.

The Georgia Baptist evangelism conferences includes a litany of breakout sessions to train participants in proven strategies for reaching their neighborhoods, communities and state for Christ.

The Conyers conference continues on Monday. A second evangelism conference is scheduled for March 10-11 at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton. Both are intended to inspire and equip Georgia Baptists to increase  efforts to spread the gospel among Georgia's diverse population.

“One day we will stand on the heavenly shore as one body, unified and diversified — people from every nation, tribe, kindred, and tongue, which means that the earth on which we live ought to serve as the canvas for a Kodak moment of the future state of eternity,” Smith said told the people gathered at Conyers First Baptist.  “We ought to be reflective, a mirror of what the church is going to look like in the future.”

Danny Forshee, lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, urged Georgia Baptists not to allow fear to hold them back from doing the things God would have them do in spreading the gospel.

“For some of you, it is daunting; it is intimidating,” Forshee said. “Stop being afraid.”

Forshee said Christians should have “water walking faith,” like the Apostle Peter did when he stepped out of the boat to join Jesus as He walked on water.

“The great I Am loves you,” Forshee said. “You ought to be the boldest, most confident person in your neighborhood. … God is not mad at you. God loves you. He called you. He is not done with you. He is for you.”

Forshee challenged Georgia Baptists to be willing to do the unconventional, even the radical, to reach their neighborhoods with the gospel.

“Do you have a dream? Do you have something big?” he asked. “If the Lord is in it, say ‘I’m going to do it. I’m going to step out in faith.’”