Steve Parr, state missionary in staff coordination and development, talks about U2019, an effort to reach children and youth in Georgia with Gospel, alongside Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White. The presentation came at the Executive Committee meeting held March 14 in the student ministry building of Second Baptist Church in Warner Robins. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index
— An initiative to reach students featured prominently at the Executive Committee meeting held at Second Baptist Church
here Tuesday, March 14. The effort, U2019, looks to partner churches with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board in reaching teenagers and children. Steve Parr, state missionary for staff coordination and development, explained the effort in an address alongside Executive Director J. Robert White to Mission Board staff last month. Yesterday, he echoed those points in person to Executive Committee members. "Last year Georgia Baptist churches averaged one student baptism," said Parr. "In addition, half of those churches didn't baptize a single teenager." When it came to children, he added, Georgia Baptist congregations averaged three baptisms per church, with half baptizing one or less. "The sad reality is many churches in Georgia are not reaching out to teens," White told Committee members gathered in the student building of Second Baptist. "This is about challenging each other to make the choice to reach young people. Those churches that choose to not reach youth will one day have no children on the playground and no youth in worship."
Providing resources for lay leaders
U2019, stated Parr, will seek to better connect churches with training and resources through the Mission Board. "One in eight Georgia Baptist churches has a vocational staff member leading children or youth. That means seven out of eight rely on volunteers,"he pointed out. "Now, those leaders do a phenomenal job, but it requires passion, anointing, and skill." Where churches partnering with the Convention can benefit greatest lies in that last word. Parr outlined three keys to success for all churches wanting to reach young people:
- A plan so compelling that every church wants to be involved.
- A plan so simple every church can be involved.
- A plan so challenging that more kids and teens will be reached through 2019 and beyond.
"We're looking for churches to lead in being a part of the strategy," said Parr, who for 14 years served as student pastor at Hebron Baptist Church
in Dacula. During his tenure, the church averaged 100 student baptisms a year. "We want every Georgia Baptist church to commit to reaching the next generation."
The Big Invite and a call to Win Georgia
"I believe we're going to go over a million easily," said Thomas Hammond, Georgia Baptist Convention president and pastor of Alpharetta First Baptist Church, in regards to Easter attendees through The Big Invite. "I hope to see our baptism numbers through the roof."
Hammond delivered the remarks as part of the president's greeting. The Big Invite is an effort
for Georgia Baptist churches to have more attendees on Easter Sunday than ever through concentrated outreach beginning seven weeks prior. "My church is energized for Easter," he said. "On their spring break, our youth group will be canvassing the neighborhood for a church we're planting 11 miles away." Hammond also revealed "Win Georgia" as the theme for the 2017 Georgia Baptist annual meeting, to be held Nov. 13-14 at North Metro Baptist Church
in Lawrenceville. A line connecting last year's annual meeting theme – Unite Georgia – can be drawn via the evangelistic tone created by The Big Invite. But, he added, that doesn't mean fostering unity goes away. "In the fall we'll be having regional pastor prayer lunches. I believe with all my heart that as we're praying for unity in the convention, God answered those prayers last year. Thank you for all the times we work together and serve together. I get encouraged by that."
Georgia leads in Cooperative Program giving
In the Cooperative Program report, funds received year-to-date through February 2017 decreased by $55,444.06, or 1.03 percent, when compared to the same time period through February 2016. For the month of February 2017 contrasted with February 2016, however, gifts through CP increased by $144,735.25, or 4.3 percent. Among all state conventions, Georgia stands as the top giver to the Cooperative Program. A report of comparative receipts given by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, beginning in October 2016 and through February, listed Georgia as providing $7,482,589.67. Following were the Alabama State Board of Missions ($7,329,072.31), Southern Baptists of Texas Convention ($6,706,211.30, and Tennessee Baptist Convention ($6,434,604.20).
Upcoming events, Disaster Relief update
In other business …
- Buck Burch, state missionary in Cooperative Program Giving and Stewardship, reminded pastors that April 9 was Cooperative Program Emphasis Sunday.
- Tim Smith, state missionary in Groups and Faith Development, announced that Go Georgia would be held in two locations, with Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta hosting Aug. 18-19 and First Baptist Tifton holding that distinction Aug. 25-26.
- Larry Wynn, state missionary in Church Revitalization and Evangelism, encouraged attendance to Moving Beyond, a one-day leadership conference with Johnny Hunt, pastor of Woodstock First Baptist, held May 18 at the Missions and Ministry Center in Duluth. The $15 fee includes lunch.
- Stuart Lang, director for Georgia Baptist Disaster Relief, reported that since August volunteers had logged 3,328 work days. Amid the work conducted, 18 individuals prayed to receive Christ.
- Mike Griffin, state missionary in Public Affairs, encouraged Georgia Baptists to be educated and active in political matters. "When we engage, we win," he said.
- John Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church in Statesboro, announced "It is Not in Vain" as the theme of the Nov. 13 preaching conference preceding the GBC annual meeting. Featured speakers include Al Mohler, president of Southern Seminary and former editor of The Christian Index, and Marvin Hudson, a Major League Baseball umpire and Georgia Baptist.