NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–FAITH’s national training plan turns five years old this month.
And what better thing to do for a birthday than celebrate?
LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention will sponsor a National FAITH Institute Jan. 27-31 at First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., the church where FAITH was born.
FAITH, a strategy combining Sunday School and evangelism, originated at the Daytona Beach church and has been introduced to Southern Baptists by LifeWay Christian Resources.
First Baptist pastor Bobby Welch and then-FBC staff member Doug Williams began developing what is now known as the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy at First Baptist in 1985 to help bolster the church’s Sunday School enrollment and reconnect Sunday School and evangelism. In 1998, LifeWay partnered with the church in developing materials and launching a national training plan.
While evangelism it at its core, “FAITH is far broader than just evangelism,” Welch said. “It is a strategy and process wherein a local church can crystallize the ministry task.” Suggesting the visualization of a box holding many items, he said the FAITH strategy is like a box holding the varied components of evangelism, assimilation, discipleship and ministry.
“The heart of the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy is its connection with a church’s Sunday School and the development of Great Commission Christians,” said Gene Mims, vice president of LifeWay’s church resources division.
FAITH team members work in groups of three to share their faith and present the plan of salvation to people. When people are won to Christ, new believers are enrolled in a Sunday School appropriate for their age and invited to attend church with the team. FAITH teams also make visits to minister to members of the same Sunday School class they attend.
While numbers don’t always show the scope of the ministry that occurs, the statistics for FAITH since 1998 are indicative of the strategy’s success:
— Total FAITH clinic-trained people: 28,868.
— Total FAITH clinic-trained churches: 6,851.
— Total clinics completed: 351.
— 2002-2003 clinics planned: 78.
At the national institute in Daytona Beach, participants will be offered three different tracks to choose from, including one in Spanish.
New FAITH trainees will be offered the FAITH basic track, qualifying them to begin FAITH training in their churches. FAITH basic track participants will have opportunities to interact with churches currently using FAITH. Senior pastors must attend this track if they have not previously attended a FAITH training clinic.
The FAITH Veteran’s Track is for those who have attended a FAITH training clinic or have completed their first semester of FAITH. It offers:
— Skill-development workshops to help FAITH Veteran’s improve their effectiveness in the FAITH strategy.
— Intentional efforts to build a national network of FAITH practitioners.
— Testimonies of success experienced through FAITH.
— Messages pointing FAITH leaders to an expanded mission through FAITH.
— Discussion times for sharing ideas and strategies with other FAITH churches.
Pastors, church staff, FAITH directors, FAITH records secretaries, Sunday School leaders and anyone involved in FAITH can deepen their understanding of the strategy. They will learn how to strengthen the Sunday School foundation that makes FAITH work through a variety of conferences and discussion groups. FAITH churches may choose to bring participants to both the FAITH basic track and the FAITH Veteran’s Track.
Training in FAITH is a prerequisite for all participants in the Veteran’s Track.
FAITH is now available in Spanish and a “Por Fe” track will be running simultaneously with the FAITH basic and FAITH Veteran’s tracks. This track will include complete training in the Por Fe materials.
Three other national FAITH institutes will be held this year: First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ga., May 19-22; First Baptist Church, Carrollton, Texas, Aug. 4-7; and Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, Calif., Sept. 22-25.
Warren Haynes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Ore., who attended a FAITH institute last year at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., said, “Often when I attend conferences, I feel I am making an investment in myself and in my church. When I left the FAITH institute, I felt like Immanuel Baptist Church, LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC had made an investment in me. I can honestly say this is the best conference I have ever attended.”
For more information about FAITH, go to www.lifeway.com/faith.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: 5 YEARS OF FAITH.