2024 Evangelism Conference equips, encourages Arkansas Baptists

ALEXANDER, Ark. – Evangelism is sharing the hope of the Gospel. It’s telling people the good news of Jesus.  

“We get the privilege of telling people what God has done in our life and what He can do in their lives as we share the Gospel with them,” said Catherine Renfro, director of women’s evangelism with the North American Mission Board (NAMB) 

Renfro was one of several special guests sharing with Arkansas Baptists this week during the Statewide Conference on Evangelism and Church Health (ECON) at New Life Baptist Church in Alexander. Renfro led the ministers’ wives and women in ministry lunch and workshop on Tuesday.  

The Evangelism Conference equips, encourages and empowers Arkansas Baptist leaders to bring the Good News to the forefront of their ministries. 

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Cross Church Worship led attendees in praise. (Photo by Ethan Dial)

Methods of Evangelism 

“Evangelism is when God’s people filled with God’s spirit take God’s message to the lost,” said Todd Kaunitz, lead pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church in east Texas.  

Kaunitz, who led the Monday prayer workshop, said there are a lot of great traditional methods of evangelism. But culture is shifting fast.  

“We have to make sure we are understanding the culture and not just using and relying on a method. One of the great challenges is the church does a pretty good job of training strategy, but not preparing a person spiritually in evangelism,” Kaunitz said. “Reaching people who are lost is not a matter of my ability to effectively communicate a strategy. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that brings someone to salvation. God can use the strategy, but the strategy without the Spirit is useless.”  

Arkansans gather to at New Life Baptist Church to focus on Evangelism. (Video by Alex Blankenship)

Nathan Lino, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas, said currently special events on campus with the gathered church are still working to some degree but more and more they are becoming ineffective strategies.  

“The big transition and transformation in evangelism that is required for churches to be effective long-term is to make on-campus events their secondary evangelism strategy and to train their people to live as evangelists Sunday at noon to Saturday night as their primary evangelism strategy,” he said.  

Noe Garcia, who formerly served in Arkansas and is currently senior pastor at North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Arizona, said the methods of evangelism depend on the context.  

“When I did evangelism here in Arkansas, it looked a lot different than doing evangelism in Phoenix. Phoenix is ranked 89th out of 96 least Bible minded cities,” Garcia said. “You have to really study your community. You have to know who is there, who God has placed there. It’s important to become culturally relevant but not biblically irrelevant. I think that is the friction sometimes. I don’t think every method of evangelism will work for every city. I think you have to really study your own city and be prayerful about what God is calling you to do and then cast the net. Understand the fish you are trying to catch.”  

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Arkansas Baptist State Convention Executive Director Dr. Rex Horne encouraged pastors to be humble in their ministry during his message on King Uzziah. (Photo by Ethan Dial)

Effective evangelism 

When it comes to effective evangelism, NAMB Senior Director of Replanting Mark Clifton said you have to have compassion for people who are lost.  

“If you try to do evangelism without compassion, without being broken for people, it is not going to last and sustain for very long,” Clifton said. “I think that is the heart of evangelism – compassion, and you get compassion by spending time with Jesus and spending time at the foot of the cross. Compassion is where it begins and then compassion moves you to action, and you truly care about people and their lostness.”  

Prayer is another important piece of evangelism. In the past three years, Kaunitz said his church has seen thousands of people come to faith in Christ and almost 1,100 people baptized. They didn’t really make any changes in strategy, but they did start praying specifically for the lost.  

“We pray every week as a corporate body specifically for salvation or the lost by name and He’s doing it. I think that’s where we have seen evangelism elevated, and what I’ve learned is the more people pray for the lost, the greater the burden is going to be for the lost. That’s one of the reasons we’re not seeing our people having evangelistic hearts because they don’t have evangelistic prayers.” 

Renfro encouraged women’s ministry leaders to be intentional in keeping evangelism on the front burner.  

“Most of us don’t naturally drift toward evangelism, so we have to keep talking about it. We have to celebrate it. We have to encourage it. We have to share stories about it. What we know is people will replicate what leaders celebrate. If we’re celebrating when people are praying for lost people and other people want to be part of it … it just develops this culture of evangelism,” she said.  

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“The hope of Jesus Christ is the greatest need of a generation,” Shane Pruitt said during Monday evening’s session. He discussed the importance of evangelizing the next generation and using the church of today to do so. (Photo by Ethan Dial)

Shane Pruitt, national Next Gen director for NAMB, shared the prayer strategy “pray for BOB.” First, pray with a burden. Second, pray for opportunity. Lastly, pray for boldness. Pruitt also offered NAMB’s Life on Mission App as a source of information on evangelism for pastors and churches. NAMB is also developing resources contextualized specifically for women. This week, NAMB released the eBook, “Women in the Mission of God.”  

“I think it’s a good thing to remind ourselves as leaders and people in ministry that success in evangelism isn’t necessarily in the result because the results are up to the Lord,” Pruitt said. “I think success in evangelism to us is just obedience to share the Gospel. It’s not our job to save people because we can’t. Only the Lord can do that. But it is our job to point people to Jesus who can save them. That is where the success is in the obedience.”  

Sermons from the Evangelism Conference will be shared on the ABSC website in the coming weeks. ABSC podcast hosts Andrea Lennon (Inspire on the Go), Ryan Scantling and Brock Caldwell (Lead>Defend), and Sam Roberts and Clint Ritchie (Missionize with the Missions Guys) sat down with several of the speakers during the event. Check out absc.org/podcasts for upcoming episodes.  

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Arkansas Baptists proclaimed the worthiness of the Lord through worship at the Evangelism + Church Health Conference. (Photo by Ethan Dial)

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