Georgia Baptists head into evangelism conferences on positive note with 92% increase in baptisms since COVID lag

Latest count shows Georgia Baptist churches baptized 19,738 in past year, an increase of more than 4,600 over previous 12 months


CONYERS, Ga. — Georgia Baptists are heading into a pair of evangelism conferences with a full head of steam, having seen a 30% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 92% increase since 2020.

Baptism numbers are rising as more churches submit their Annual Church Profile, a yearly census of Southern Baptist congregations, and, the process, ratcheting up interest in the evangelism conferences to be held on Feb. 25-26 at First Baptist Church in Conyers and March 10-11 at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.

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 latest count of baptisms in Georgia stands at 19,738 for 2023, an increase of more than 4,600 over the previous year.

Steve Foster, an evangelism consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said many of the state’s churches have made evangelism a renewed priority, and they see the evangelism conferences as the places to find workable strategies for reaching people who don’t attend church.

The conferences, Foster said, provide healthy doses of both inspiration and information to help congregations reach their communities.

The Mission Board has pulled together a strong lineup of preachers for the evangelism conferences.

Keynote speakers from Georgia and beyond will be on the main platforms while a litany of others will lead smaller breakout sessions on a broad range of evangelism strategies.

“I am excited about all the speakers that we will be hearing,” Foster said in January. “These men are not only spiritually gifted men of God, but they are committed to personal evangelism and sharing the gospel.”

Registration for the event is now open.

At First Baptist Conyers, Robert Smith, a professor at the Beeson Divinity School at Alabama’s Samford University, will be a keynote speaker, as will Danny Forshee, lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, H.B. Charles, pastor at Shiloah Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Mark Hearn, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Duluth.

At Northside Baptist, Hammond and Charles will be keynote speakers along with Herb Reavis, senior pastor at North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Florida and Matt Queen, evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Mission Board is promoting this year’s evangelism conferences as “life changing.” The theme for the conferences is “Called to Witness.”

The annual evangelism conferences are among the Mission Board’s best-attended events, drawing some 1,500 people.

“Evangelism can be frustrating for a lot of pastors,” said Brad Marchman, also an evangelism consultant for the Mission Board. “My favorite thing the past few years has been hearing from pastors how encouraged and challenged they were by the messages and breakout sessions. They didn’t leave beat down, but feeling like there was hope for them and their church in this area.”