Georgia Baptists Urged to Reach the Next Generation at Annual Meeting

Left to right: Steve Parr, Jenni Carter, Jason Britt, Jarrod Thompson, and Ricky Smith discuss strategies churches can establish in reaching the younger generation. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index

Speakers urged Georgia Baptists to redouble their efforts in sharing the Gospel with young people and training student ministry leaders alongside other business at their 197th annual meeting held at Second Baptist Church, Warner Robins, Nov. 12-13.

Messengers also adopted a $41.3 million budget, collected more than 38,000 backpacks for Appalachian children, and elected a new president and vice presidents.

Generation Yet

Georgia Baptist Convention President Mike Stone led in focusing on reaching young people throughout the meeting. With the theme “Mission Possible: Reaching Generation Yet” and background of Psalm 78:1-8, Stone called on churches to re-evaluate their current methods of evangelizing and discipling children and students.

One of those tools rolled out during the first sessions was “This is My Story.” Acknowledging Fannie Crosby’s influence over the title, Stone spoke about the four-week discipling tool that could help students in becoming more comfortable sharing their testimony.

But Stone, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Blackshear, pointed out to messengers that’s not the only things churches could see.

“The amazing thing is, you’ll see a number of your student group come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior just in the process of teaching and preparing your saved students to share the Gospel,” he explained.

A panel discussion the next day also dove into what churches need to do to win the younger generation for Christ.

“It was foundational [for our church] that there is no evangelism that doesn’t begin and end with the next generation,” said pastor Jason Britt of Bethlehem Church. “That was a top priority championed by me from the platform.”

Churches need to re-think their dependence on programming, a tried-and-true-method in the past, First Baptist Church of Buford, Next Generation pastor Jarrod Thompson noted. Reaching young people today requires more venturing outside of the church walls.

“We need to encourage our students and leaders … one-on-one discipleship is really important, Saturday morning breakfast with students, Thursday night after football [practice] … different things like that I really think are important,” he said.

Early inspiration Sunday night

Florida evangelist Rick Coram set the tone for the gathering at the Inspirational Rally held Sunday, Nov. 11.

“Don’t Ever Stop!” cried Coram, using Mark 14:3-9 as his text. He stated, “Mary, the sister of Lazarus, poured expensive oil on Jesus over 2,000 years ago and we remember it tonight. God never forgets our faithfulness or our service.”

Coram urged the crowd to never stop in leaving their offering, living in obedience, or doing whatever they can to point people to Jesus.

“The heroes in your church may be the people who fold the tables from which they will never eat or the people who cook meals they will never eat. The heroes may be the ones who sit on the floor and teach toddlers how to sing songs about Jesus or it may be the nursery worker who changes diapers,” he preached.

Officers elected

With President Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta (center) stand newly-elected vice presidents: Al Wright, First Baptist Waynesboro; Jack Lee, Altamaha Baptist Church in Jesup; Brad Boynton, Spring Place Baptist Church in Chatsworth; and Ken Alford, Crossroads Baptist Church in Valdosta. Scott Barkley/Index

While GBC presidents are historically given a second unopposed term, Stone chose to not allow himself to be nominated in order to focus on his family, ministry at Emmanuel, and role as chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.

Robby Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta, was elected president unopposed. Those elected as vice presidents include Al Wright, pastor of First Baptist Waynesboro; Jack Lee, pastor of Altamaha Baptist Church in Jesup; Brad Boynton, pastor of Spring Place Baptist Church in Chatsworth; and Ken Alford, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in Valdosta.

In addition to serving in their elected offices, these men will also become members of the Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

In addition, the Georgia African American Fellowship elected Anthony Wilson as its new president. Former president Jean Ward accepted the new position of executive director, working alongside Wilson.

Baptists close in on 40,000 backpack goal

Last year’s goal of 35,000 was surpassed with a final tally of 38,641, reported state missionary Bill Barker. This year’s total is set at 40,000 but it will be several weeks before the final number is known.

Georgia collects half of the 80,000 backpacks for distribution throughout Appalachia as well as two impoverished associations in south Georgia.

Appalachian Mountain Ministry, the outreach of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, partners with 10 states to provide school supplies, warm winter coats, and Christmas gifts for children living below the poverty level.

Ebenezer Baptist Church in Douglasville is one church that represents the vast majority of smaller churches that are energized by the annual event. Pastor Terry Braswell Jr. said his congregation, “which averages about 30 on a good Sunday,” collected 46 last year and surpassed that with 50 this year.

Their contribution found its way to Kentucky with 500 others from West Metro Baptist Association which took them directly to a ministry center.

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Source: Baptist Press