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June 13, 2014

On the Southern Baptist agenda: Get the evangelizers evangelizing

(Continued)

BALTIMORE —

But back to those tools and programs. The physical heart of the meeting was a massive exposition of books, instructional videos, apps, music and thinkers selling and sharing items and ideas meant to help evangelizers learn to evangelize.

Among the newer items were the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's "My Hope" videos, which are meant to be shared over a dessert in your home. Another is a mobile app called "3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide," meant to help guide everyday talks.

To Dean Inserra, a Tallahassee pastor, such technologies are useless.

"Some people think it's about technology, but I think it's about lifestyle and relationship," Inserra said as he stood in the expo's bustling, loud center. "I think those things are a wall. A wall will go up if someone thinks they are a project. I'm not trying to convert someone."

You're not? Isn't that the point?

"I care if they ARE converted, but there can be a perception that, 'You don't care about me as a person.' I am trying to build relationships," he said.

But there is an underlying question about beliefs. LifeWay research found that only half of Protestant churchgoers disagree with the statement that "eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity."

"When you think this, there's a higher level of evangelizing," said Stetzer. "Half don't think that."

A common topic at the conference was the apparent decline of what Al Mohler, president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called "cultural Christianity" — the expectation that an American will be a Christian and a churchgoing one. Mohler and others said they celebrated the decline, even in the Christian heartland, of a faith that for some might have been superficial all along.

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