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Evangelists consider new ministry & funding models

COLUMBUS, Ohio (BP) — Discussing the changing role of evangelists in Southern Baptist life and hosting an evangelistic festival will be among the agenda items when the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists gathers June 12-15 in Columbus, Ohio, in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.

“Our goal is to reposition COSBE to be a broader association of evangelists that would include more bivocational evangelists, tentmakers [and] businessmen outside of just the traditional, fulltime revivalist type of evangelists,” COSBE President Richard Hamlet said. “We want to enlarge our membership with those who understand their calling as evangelists but yet their ministries are within their own marketplaces.”

The meeting will begin with a retreat Friday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Hilton Columbus Downtown’s Burkhart Room A. The retreat will continue Saturday, June 13, from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Saturday evening from 5-8 p.m., COSBE evangelists will host an evangelistic festival at Goodale Park approximately two blocks from the Greater Columbus Convention Center, where the SBC annual meeting will occur.

The festival will follow Crossover, Southern Baptists’ annual pre-convention evangelistic blitz, and feature Gospel preaching, music, food, ventriloquists, illusionists and testimonies. It will be the first such pre-SBC rally COSBE has hosted. Evangelists plan to invite the public and hope thousands will attend.

“It’s going to be an exciting time, and hopefully a lot of folks will get saved,” said Hamlet, president and CEO or the Global Ministries Foundation in Cordova, Tenn. “We’re going to be preaching the Gospel downtown.”

COSBE will host its Sunday morning worship service June 14 from 9-11:30 a.m. in the Hilton’s George Bellows Rooms C-D. Speakers will include Hamlet and two others who had not been announced by Friday’s (April 24) publication deadline.

The COSBE gathering will continue with a lunch and business meeting at noon Sunday, when the group will consider bylaw amendments and elect new officers. Monday night, June 15, following the SBC Pastors’ Conference, COSBE will host an open house for pastors and other guests in the Hilton’s George Bellows Room A-F. The open house will include refreshments and music by some of the group’s music evangelists.

COSBE’s booth in the SBC exhibit hall will help Southern Baptists understand the work of evangelists internationally and in North America.

Attendees of the COSBE meeting will discuss new ways of doing vocational evangelism, Hamlet said. Fewer churches continue to hold Sunday through Wednesday protracted meetings as in the past, he said, but the biblical office of evangelist remains an important part of church life.

Contemporary evangelists conduct evangelism training seminars, preach at urban rallies around the world and train national pastors to share the Gospel in foreign countries, Hamlet said. He noted that these types of ministry often require evangelists to support themselves by working secular jobs or raising funds through avenues other than the traditional “love offering.”

“It’s a different day, but there are still evangelists,” Hamlet said. “Biblical evangelists are going to preach the Gospel no matter what it costs.”