BELIEVER’S BAPTISM – MUCH MORE THAN NUMBERS

By Nathan A. Finn
Dean, School Of Theology & Missions, Union University

Nathan Finn

Nathan Finn

As Baptist followers of Jesus Christ, we Southern Baptists have always emphasized the importance of believer’s baptism.

As we see it in Scripture, believer’s baptism is:

  • A public testimony of a new believer’s faith in Christ and the church’s recognition of that faith (Acts 2:38-41; I Peter 3:21).
  • A pictorial representation of the gospel the believer has responded to in faith (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:11-12).
  • The new covenant sign that a believer is part of the body of Christ (Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 4:5).
  • A key component in faithfully fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

[Read more…]

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COLLINS NAMED DIRECTOR OF EVANGELISM FOR TENNESSEE BAPTIST MISSION BOARD

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Roc Collins

Roc Collins

BRENTWOOD – Kingsport pastor Roc Collins, immediate past president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, has been named director of evangelism for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB).

Collins has been senior pastor of Indian Springs Baptist Church in Kingsport for the past 11 years. He informed his congregation Nov. 27 of his decision to join the TBMB staff in January.

In his new role, Collins will direct all efforts in achieving Objective 1 of the Five Objectives that Tennessee Baptist Convention messengers adopted as their long-range goal in 2014. Objective 1 is to see at least 50,000 Tennesseans saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship annually by 2024. [Read more…]

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NEW CHURCH BAPTIZES 99 IN 9 MONTHS

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Nathan Thomason, founder and pastor, Outreach Baptist Church, Smithville, baptizes a boy outside the church facility in a strip mall near downtown Smithville.

Nathan Thomason, founder and pastor, Outreach Baptist Church, Smithville, baptizes a boy outside the church facility in a strip mall near downtown Smithville.

SMITHVILLE — Nathan Thomason wanted to be pastor of an evangelistic church here. So he started one.

Just nine months later, Outreach Baptist Church, which Thomason planted, has baptized 99 people.

All 99 people were baptized outside in the courtyard of the horseshoe-shaped strip mall which serves as the church’s facility. Thomason uses a portable baptistry.

One evening the courtyard “was full” as 21 adults, teens, and children were baptized, recalled Thomason. [Read more…]

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IT’S TIME TO INVITE PEOPLE TO COME TO JESUS

By Ernest L. Easley
Professor of Evangelism, Union University

Ernest Easley

Ernest Easley

There was a lot of talk on the topic of evangelism during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis.

The sermons that were preached, the panel discussions that were presented, and our mission boards’ reports all made reference to the 15-year decrease in baptisms in our Southern Baptist churches.

Plenty of people are attempting to explain the decline. Some say it’s because so many of our churches are not filing their annual report, thus skewing the numbers. Others say the decline is theologically based while still others say it’s methodological. [Read more…]

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SUNDAY SCHOOL NEEDED TOOL FOR MINISTRY

By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Mark Miller

Mark Miller

BRENTWOOD — While enrollment and attendance numbers for Sunday School have declined across the Southern Baptist Convention in recent years according to Annual Church Profile (ACP) reports, Sunday School remains a much needed ministry tool in churches, says Mark Miller.

Miller, Sunday School specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, cited research on “transformational groups” provided by LifeWay Christian Resources.

“Worship attenders who also participate in a group or class read their Bible more, pray more, confess their sins more, share the gospel more, give more, and serve more than those who just attend worship,” he observed. [Read more…]

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CHURCH SEES 34 BAPTIZED IN FIVE MONTHS

Small East Tennessee congregation, Pastor Dwight Torbett featured on Reaching app

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

David Evans, left, TBC evangelism specialist, interviews Dwight Torbett, pastor, Westside Baptist Church, Madisonville, recently for the Reaching app.

David Evans, left, TBC evangelism specialist, interviews Dwight Torbett, pastor, Westside Baptist Church, Madisonville, recently for the Reaching app.

MADISONVILLE — Westside Baptist Church, Madisonville, is making waves in its community, which is why its pastor, Dwight Torbett, is featured on the new “Reaching” app of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, explained David Evans, TBC evangelism specialist.

Evans said he is thrilled at the response to the app. About 1,000 people have downloaded it in just two months. The free app features daily devotions, interviews, an evangelism blog, and evangelism tools.

Torbett is interviewed in the video section of the app. He is included partly because his small church, which draws about 110 people on Sunday mornings, has baptized 34 people in the first five months of 2016, explained Evans. This occurrence is not an anomaly. Since 2011 Westside Baptist has baptized an average of 26 people each year with a high of 42 in 2015.

Torbett told the Baptist and Reflector that he has been pastor of Westside Baptist for seven years and initially the church drew about 25 people on Sunday morning. [Read more…]

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CHURCH BAPTIZES 100 IN SERVICE

By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector

Jeff Lovingood, senior associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Cleveland, baptizes Savanna Wheaton on March 13 at the church.

Jeff Lovingood, senior associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Cleveland, baptizes Savanna Wheaton on March 13 at the church.

CLEVELAND — The March 13 evening service of First Baptist Church here was unique. No one at the church had been in a service where 100 people were baptized.

Amazingly, in many ways, the event wasn’t planned. For instance, 97 new Christians were signed up to be baptized but three more people came to bring the total to 100 people baptized.

No special occasion or event was held at the church which resulted in the many people making the commitments. The people baptized had made professions of faith mostly during the past six months or so.

In fact, baptisms are the norm at First Baptist. The church baptized 253 new Christians last year. First Baptist draws about 3,300 people to its five Sunday morning services. All of the services are held on site at the main campus. [Read more…]

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IMB ADDRESSES BAPTISM NUMBERS

By David Roach
Baptist Press

A decrease in international baptisms reported is due largely to changes in data-reporting methods, the International Mission Board said. -BP photo.

A decrease in international baptisms reported is due largely to changes in data-reporting methods, the International Mission Board said.
-BP photo.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Decreases in the number of baptisms and new churches reported by International Mission Board missionaries during the past decade reflect changes in data-reporting methods and missions strategy, not a lack of evangelistic ministry.

That’s the conclusion of a March 21 IMB news release issued in response to observations that overseas baptisms for 2015 are at their lowest level since 1969 — 54,762, according to the IMB’s 2016 Ministry Report to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, down from a high of 609,968 reported for 2007. [Read more…]

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10,356 FILIPINOS MAKE COMMITMENTS

Baptist and Reflector

Charles Pratt, left, assists a Filipino pastor in baptizing a new Christian in the South China Sea. Pratt directs Cross Partners Ministry.

Charles Pratt, left, assists a Filipino pastor in baptizing a new Christian in the South China Sea. Pratt directs Cross Partners Ministry.

SOMERVILLE — A team of nine missions volunteers serving on the Cross Partners Ministry team recently returned from two weeks in the Republic of the Philippines where they served with more than 30 churches in four different Baptist associations.

The team participated in more than 100 evangelistic crusades with Filipino Baptists across Luzon Island and saw 10,056 professions of faith and 300 other decisions for Christ.

The team was led by Charles Pratt, director of missions for Fayette Baptist Association based in Somerville. Pratt also is president and founder of Cross Partners Ministry, Inc. He has been leading volunteer missions teams on 5 continents for over 26 years to serve on short time missions trips. [Read more…]

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LOVING THE STRANGER

By Carlos Ferrer
Executive Vice President, NAMB

Carlos Ferrer

Carlos Ferrer

I escaped communist Cuba in 1962 as an 11-year-old boy hiding at the bottom of a cargo ship with my family. We had nothing but each other when we arrived in the United States. Through the love and hospitality of Southern Baptist strangers, my family received assistance that not only helped us in our journey toward citizenship, but helped us in our faith journey as well.

That experience has forever colored how I view today’s immigrants. Years later, when my wife Cindy and I were attending First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga., we met Ron and Cathy Frost. They asked us help launch a Spanish-language Sunday School class. Together we visited trailer parks and houses making friends with the Hispanic people throughout the county. After several months a few regulars began attending. As we shared Christ we also helped them find jobs, learn English, and establish citizenship. [Read more…]

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