ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — Johnny Hunt, the new senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at the North American Mission Board, has launched a podcast – “Evangelism with Johnny Hunt” — co-hosted by NAMB President Kevin Ezell.
The podcast is among the new resources from NAMB to boost evangelistic conversation and activity among Southern Baptists.
“This is another hook in the water of lostness to remind us, inspire us, instruct us and convince us that if the evangelistic spirit is to return, it’s up to us,” said Hunt, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Over the last decade, Southern Baptists have seen a decline in baptism numbers across the convention, reflecting a downturn in churches reaching people and making disciples.
“I believe baptisms are down due to the fact that evangelism is not a front-burner issue in most churches,” Hunt said. “In the 1990s Southern Baptist churches discarded their programmatic evangelism resources … and never replaced them. Many churches have moved away from a set time of outreach, and the bottom line is evangelism is not being done.”
While many churches shifted focus from referencing and utilizing tools and strategies, Hunt said, one of the keys to reigniting evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention is the pastor.
“Pastors are the key to evangelism,” he said. “If it’s not important to them, it will never be important in their churches. Pastors must lead the way.”
Hunt, who began his new role at NAMB on Jan. 1 after 32 years as pastor at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said each episode of the podcast is designed with pastors in mind.
Hunt and Ezell regularly interview current pastors to hear their wisdom and perspective. Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., Todd Unzicker, sending pastor at The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., and Steven Kyle of Hiland Park Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., are among the guests who have already been interviewed for the podcast to discuss strategies in their local churches.
The evangelism decline among Southern Baptists, Hunt said, is not about a lack of resources but a lack of passion.
“We can see a surge once again when we put evangelism back where it belongs, front and center,” he said. “I have always prayed that I would never get over being saved. I pray, ‘Lord, remind me what it was like to not know You. Help me see others the way You do.'”
The evangelism podcast launched on Jan. 8 with the first three episodes. New episodes release every other week. Each installment lasts roughly 12 to 15 minutes, including encouraging testimonies, explanations on evangelism resources and tested church-wide strategies.
A podcast alone, Ezell said, won’t turn baptism numbers around, but it is one more way NAMB is trying to help Southern Baptists focus energy on sharing the Gospel with a world that needs its message.
“Everything we do at NAMB is about helping Southern Baptists share the Gospel,” Ezell said. “If every pastor makes this a priority, that will be a huge start. Brother Johnny’s podcast will share examples of the incredible ways he and many other pastors are leading their churches in evangelism. There are great stories and helpful ideas on every episode.”
The podcast can be found on Apple iTunes or accessed through NAMB’s website at www.namb.net/evangelism.