When F.A.I.T.H. evangelism training first rolled out nationally in 1998, the outreach leader from First Baptist Church in Lafayette took note.
Starting that year and every year since, the Louisiana church has had 50 to 60 people train twice a year in the F.A.I.T.H. initiative that combines evangelism with the caring ministry of Sunday School.
“I tell our new people every time we promote the [twice yearly] orientation, ‘We do this because it works,'” pastor Steve Horn told Baptist Press. “Evangelism is something we have to be intentional about, or it doesn’t happen.”
First Baptist Lafayette, where about 1,100 people worship each week in the church’s downtown location (1,400 on Easter), has majored on Sunday School and missional outreach throughout its 117-year history.
Since probably at least the early 1960s, the church has given at least 10 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program, the way Southern Baptist churches work together in state conventions, across North America and overseas to spread the Gospel worldwide.
Today it gives 10.5 percent, with plans to increase it incrementally to 11 percent.
“I very much like the language of identifying with all Southern Baptist churches to accomplish together what we cannot accomplish by ourselves,” said Horn, pastor since 2005 who has been nominated as executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. “The Cooperative Program is a wonderful model.
“My fear is that we become complacent and say, ‘We’re doing our part,’ without entering into consideration of God’s part,” the pastor continued. “As pastor, it’s my job to make sure we’re still seeking God’s will as to what our part should be.”
Along with evangelism and missions, discipleship and hands-on outreach also are well-established mainstays of the church known as “First Laf” locally as well as across the Louisiana Baptist Convention and the internet, where its website address is firstlaf.org.
“Everything with us sort of starts with Sunday School,” Horn said. “And we have a strong discipleship ministry. On average, if we have 1,000 in Sunday School, we’ll have 400 in discipleship Sunday evening or Thursday morning and evening.”
Teams trained in F.A.I.T.H visit contacts Tuesday evenings relayed through Sunday School class members who know to be alert to the possibility that friends, family members, coworkers and others with whom they come in contact might be needful of a visit by the church.
“We live in a changing culture but we find it tremendously easy to get into people’s homes,” Horn said, “and very common to share the Gospel when we get there.”
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Source: Baptist Press