Kevin Ezell delivered the North American Mission Board’s report to messengers June 13 focusing on disciple-making and relaying an update on the effectiveness of Southern Baptist church planting efforts and NAMB’s new initiative in Puerto Rico.
Ezell, NAMB’s president, began the report by inviting Robby Gallaty to share findings and recommendations from the disciple-making task force that NAMB and LifeWay Christian Resources convened two years ago. Gallaty, who chaired the committee, pastors Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
Gallaty recounted that the task force analyzed the last 20 years of Annual Church Profile (ACP) data. They discovered that despite the impressive number of baptisms over that span — 7.1 million — average church attendance remained virtually flat. Even after factoring in for mortality, Gallaty said 6.5 million people had dropped out of church attendance over those 20 years.
“Our convention could be twice as large as it is today if we would have simply engaged the people we just baptized,” Gallaty said.
Gallaty summarized the task force’s recommendations: Increase Bible engagement for church members; examine the connection between salvation decisions and group involvement; and examine the number of groups that multiply on a regular basis.
Ezell followed Gallaty with a recap of NAMB’s church planting efforts since he began leading the entity in 2010.
“Seven years ago, we began a new journey and started a laser focus on church planting,” Ezell said. “That is the New Testament model and we believe still the very best strategy for evangelism today.”
Church plants baptize at a 67 percent better attendee-to-baptism ratio when compared to established churches, Ezell said.
He also reported that NAMB has significantly increased its church planter assessment process. Today, only a third of candidates pass NAMB’s assessments.
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Source: Baptist Press