NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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June 13, 2014

On the Southern Baptist agenda: Get the evangelizers evangelizing

(Continued)

BALTIMORE —

Eighty percent of Southern Baptist churches baptize only one person between the ages 18 and 29 per year, Luter said. "If we were working in a secular job with these kinds of reports, many of us would have been fired a long time ago."

Southern Baptists "must ask God for forgiveness" for failing to share the Gospel and forgetting its power to save sinners, he said. "We need to tell God, 'God, we repent for using substitutes for the Word of God.' "

In meetings and side conversations, there was near-constant talk about why people aren't evangelizing more and how best to do it in the 21st century.

Many blame the culture, saying there is no place for an orthodox person who believes in right and wrong and that one faith system rather than others has the correct answers.

"A lot of people fear being seen as judgmental, that [evangelizing] can damage friendships and relationships," said Roger "Sing" Oldham, a spokesman for the convention.

Others said evangelicals themselves are to blame and that Southern Baptists need to eliminate Christian subcultures — bubbles with their own book clubs and cruises where one never mingles with a nonbeliever.

Still others said people need to focus more on conversation than rules. For example, don't panic if all your child's soccer games are Sunday morning. Just skip church and decide to be the soccer parent who brings Christian witness to the stands.

"You be the light and love of Christ to the other soccer moms; you be the representative to those people, because everyone needs Jesus," said Michael Allen, the Chicago-area representative of the North American Mission Board, the denomination's domestic evangelization agency. "Forget about all the tools and programs of evangelism and just tell people your story."

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