Montana Southern Baptist Convention Engages in Crossover Evangelistic Initiative

Twenty-nine people from across Montana stayed an extra day after the 2018 annual meeting of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention to participate in the convention’s first-ever Crossover evangelistic initiative.

The 29 messengers from the annual meeting assisted four of Helena’s Southern Baptist churches Oct. 6 by joining in door-to-door Gospel conversations, canvassing neighborhoods and distributing flyers about the churches.

“It was a great start for us,” Barrett Duke, MTSBC executive director, told Baptist Press. “We need to be doing all we can to reach more people for Christ and be more aggressive in reaching the lost and making disciples. This [Crossover] is a fairly easy way to ramp up that emphasis.”

The annual meeting — known in Montana as “Refresh” — took place Oct. 4-5 at Big Sky Fellowship in Helena, where Darren Hales has been pastor since 2006 when he started the church. The 217 people present included 75 messengers from 40 of Montana’s 136 churches along with 52 children from their families.

Business consisted of hearing reports from national entities and state leaders, unanimously passing the budget and unanimously electing new officers.

Reports

“Our 2018 Cooperative Program giving is on track to exceed 2017 giving by more than 20 percent,” Duke told messengers in his executive director’s report. “That is a great sign of economic health.

“We are sharing these blessings with our Southern Baptist family,” Duke continued. “We gave an additional $11,300 to our national work this year from our 2017 income overage. This brought our actual CP giving to our SBC causes for 2017 to 27 percent of our total CP gifts, rather than the 25 percent we have budgeted.”

Messengers unanimously approved a new convention initiative: Go Montana, which replaces the current Vision 2020 focus. Go Montana focuses on church mobilization and is built around three emphases: Going, Telling, Serving, Duke explained.

“If you approve this new initiative,” he told messengers before they voted, “The MTSBC will come alongside our churches with the goal of seeing every church go somewhere new, every member tell someone about Jesus, and every church start something new in the next three years.”

The initiative, which will start in January, must be saturated in prayer to offset “opposition from the enemy,” Duke said. “We must meet spirit with Spirit. We must put on the full armor of God and, above all else, pray, pray, pray.”

While the convention has seen many successes, it is not going to meet its Vision 2020 goals, Duke said. One goal was the addition of 134 churches by 2020, more than doubling the 132 Southern Baptist churches in 2010. But today, there are 136 churches, a net increase of four, though 39 churches have been planted since 2010.

Montana churches in 2017 reported an average Sunday worship attendance of 8,643, down 320 from 2016, and 605 baptisms, down 28 from a year ago. But its Cooperative Program giving was the highest ever: $628,056, up from $594,203 last year.

“Our long-term trend is very positive,” Duke reported, “but data from the last few years tells us we are losing some of our momentum.”

In his report, Duke also reported the appointment of Darren Hales as church strengthening director, Mark Langley as consultant for congregational worship and Sharon Ellington as executive director of Montana Southern Baptist Women.

Also bringing reports were Hales and Ellington; outgoing MTSBC President Lee Merck, pastor of Church of the Rockies in Red Lodge, William Johnson, church planting team leader; Adam Burt, next gen team leader.; Bruce Cannon, Yellowstone Christian College president; Ed Hudson, executive director of the Baptist Foundation of Montana; and Dan Stewart, retiring Dec. 31 as state disaster relief coordinator.

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Source: Baptist Press