ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, and Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, have appointed a task force on disciple-making.
Consisting of Southern Baptist pastors, the task force will recommend steps that churches can take to improve their disciple-making process and spark a disciple-making movement throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.
“This group will suggest a transferrable process that any church can use in any context,” Ezell said. “The priority will be leading people to the Gospel and then putting them on a pathway toward spiritual growth and maturity.”
Rainer is hopeful that the task force’s recommendations will help churches make the transition to more effective discipleship.
“So many churches do not have a clear process for discipleship,” Rainer said. “I’m confident this team of proven pastoral leaders will help us better understand how to help our churches make and grow disciples.”
Robby Gallaty, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., will serve as the task force chairman.
“Biblical disciple-making includes both inviting — evangelism — and investing — discipleship. We cannot have one without the other,” Gallaty said. “For years we have been ‘decisionistic,’ but we need to be more ‘disciplistic.’
“We must shift our mentality away from seeing decisions and baptisms as the end of our ministry to seeing them as the beginning of a lifelong discipleship journey,” Gallaty said.
The task force is being appointed at a time when Southern Baptists continue to see a decline in the number of annual baptisms across the convention. Disciple-making was one of the key challenge areas identified by a 2014 NAMB-appointed baptism task force. Among other recommendations, the NAMB group said pastors need to “create a disciple-making culture” within their churches. The newly-appointed task force will focus on how churches can make that happen.
In addition to Gallaty, the following pastors have been named to the task force:
Adam Dooley, Sunnyvale Baptist Church, Sunnyvale, Texas; Eric Geiger, ClearView Baptist Church, Franklin, Tenn.; Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; Paul Jimenez, Taylors First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C.; Mark Marshall, The Glade Church, Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; Kevin Smith, Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky.; and Pavel Urruchi, Erlanger Baptist Church, Erlanger, Ky.
Ezell said the task force will present a report at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.