Macland Baptist Church Pastor Michael Boatfield baptizes a football player from the local high school.
By J. Gerald Harris
POWDER SPRINGS – Many church leaders and youth workers are scratching their heads trying to design a program or ministry to reach Generation Z, the demographic describing those born in between 2001 and 2020. Teenagers born in the 21-century have been identified as an “unreached people group."
Religious prognosticators and surveyors are projecting that the rise of Generation Z in the United States will soon constitute the nation’s largest and least-Christian sector of society – numbering nearly 75 million people. This reality presents a sobering contemplation in that we are always only one generation away from having a secular, atheistic society.
How did this happen? Mel Walker, the president of Vision for Youth Inc. has provided some valid reasons for this concerning development. He says: (1) “Generation Z is comprised of digital natives who have grown up in the era of ubiquitous technology. (2) The majority come from dysfunctional and non-traditional households, (3) they have grown up in a post-Christian and post-church society.”
Furthermore, there are countless youth and young adults in this demographic who simply do not have sufficient Christian heroes, enough followers of Christ, an abundance of evangelistic churches and sufficient resources to win them to faith in Christ.
However, Macland Baptist Church is working hard to reach out to those who are a part of Generation Z. The church has baptized new converts four out of the last five Sundays and most of those baptized were high school students.
Macland Pastor Michael Boatfield and Reggie Fields, pastor of Revive Church, which meets at the Fine Arts Center of the South Cobb High School in Austell, joined hands and hearts to baptize nine newly converted South Cobb High School students on Sunday evening, September 19th at Macland Baptist Church. The service turned into quite a spirited celebration.
Daryl Price, Executive Director of the Noonday Baptist Association, observed, “The Sunday night service at Macland was truly a time of rejoicing as Macland and Revive baptized football players from South Cobb. Churches working together, pastors serving together for the Gospel advance is that we hope is multiplied by every church. We are in the Gospel work together. It always thrills me when we see our Noonday Baptist Association value of collaboration modeled.”
Pastor Fields addressed the Macland congregation and spoke about the passage in Exodus 34 where Moses had a personal encounter with God and challenged the congregation and the new converts to live in the presence of the Almighty. During the service Boatfield and Fields agreed to schedule joint worship services to enhance racial equality and their partnership in ministry.
The Macland Pastor has been able to find access to public schools for the purpose of sharing the Gospel with athletes; and the response to his testimony and Gospel presentation has been remarkable. Additionally, the church has become vitally involved in supporting this ministry with their prayers, gifts, and personal involvement.
So far this year, there have been 204 football players who have responded to Boatfield’s presentation of the Gospel from four different high schools. Dozens of church members have prepared and served meals for the football teams at Pebblebrook, McEachern and South Cobb high schools. The church has given approximately $5,000 to provide beautiful Bibles for the new believers. Discipleship materials have also been provided by the church to those who have professed faith in Christ. The church also purchased four automobile tires for one of the football player’s mother who was facing a crisis.
South Cobb football coach, Thomas Hanson, was present on this celebratory Sunday night to express appreciation to the church for their ministry to his football team and their family members. He said, “You have a dynamic pastor who came to see if he could help our team with no strings attached; and he has kept his work and help us tremendously.”
Ty Mitchell, a deacon at Macland, stated, “We cannot expect every convert to come into our church, but what our pastor and church are doing is good for the Kingdom of God and good for the spiritual life of our church. It has given the church a consciousness that has elevated the importance of soul winning in our fellowship. We are passionate about seeing the teenagers of our community and county come to know Christ. We are making an investment in our future so that God’s great work will continue far into the future.”
Charles Perdue, a 74-year-old deacon at Macland, commented, “I don’t think I have ever felt the excitement of such a service as we had Sunday night. It was an awesome feeling seeing those young football players from South Cobb High being baptized after accepting Christ as their Savior. It was special for me because I graduated from South Cobb in 1964. I went with Pastor Boatfield when he shared the Gospel with the team; and it was amazing. One of those young men could become another Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday or Billy Graham.”
Troy Pensa, also a Deacon at Macland, explained, “It seems that fewer and fewer of today’s youth are coming to faith in Christ. Seeing the baptism tonight reminds me that these young men have made a personal decision that will change their lives forever.”
Ed McMullen, a Bible teacher at Macland, testified, “Our passion for souls has been greatly increased through our pastor’s ministry and influence. For example, we have been told that Operation Christmas Child estimates that one child accepts Christ for every eight Christmas boxes that are distributed with the Gospel booklets in them.
“Last Christmas my wife, her 83-year-old mother and a friend packed over 600 boxes themselves. The Awanas packed 800 boxes, the GA’s packed another 200, one lady packed 200 boxes, and the rest of the church packed and additional 500 boxes for a total of 2,300 boxes. That should result in 287 children praying to receive Christ. Will they become members of Macland? No, but our people have been given the vision that reaching lost souls for Christ is the main thing.”
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, remarked, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.” One might wonder what would happen to our churches and our nation if every Christian would become a passionate soul winner. We could be reasonably certain that churches would begin to thrive and that no church would ever have to close its doors.
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