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More than 600 churches committed to attend FAITH training clinics

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–More than 2,500 people representing 650 churches already have committed to attend one of 28 FAITH training clinics being held in 15 states this fall and in early 1999.
A joint strategy of LifeWay Christian Resources (formerly Sunday School Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board, FAITH ties ongoing, personal evangelism to a church’s Sunday school organization. The initiative is modeled after a ministry begun 12 years ago at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla. Since that time, Sunday school enrollment at the church has increased from 2,555 to 4,000, and more than 200 baptisms have been recorded annually.
Officials at LifeWay and NAMB are prayerful FAITH will result in similar increases in churches across the Southern Baptist Convention. Sunday school enrollment showed a slight decrease in the SBC last year and more than 10,000 churches reported no baptisms. And according to NAMB statistics, approximately 60 percent of adults baptized in Southern Baptist churches last year were not new converts.
Aimed at turning around negative statistics like those, FAITH got its national launch at a clinic at FBC, Daytona Beach, last January. At that event, leaders from 28 “originator” churches located across the United States were trained in using the FAITH strategy. In turn, these leaders currently are carrying out the ministry in their churches and will host clinics to train leaders from other churches in their area this fall and early next year.
According to Garry Insko, a consultant in the FAITH Sunday school ministry department at LifeWay, more than 2,400 churches have expressed interest in attending one of the upcoming clinics, with 650 churches already sending in funds to reserve space. These numbers are expected to increase rapidly, he said, as news about the clinics is being shared at the nine national Sunday school leadership training conferences this summer at Glorieta (N.M.) Baptist Conference Center, Ridgecrest (N.C.) Baptist Conference Center and Green Lake (Wis.) Conference Center. At the Glorieta conferences, for example, 250 church leaders expressed interest in attending a FAITH clinic.
“There is an army being formed and you are on the front end,” Bobby Welch, senior pastor at FBC, Daytona Beach, and a key promoter of the ministry, told church staff and lay leaders attending the July 13-17 Sunday school training conference at Ridgecrest. While evangelism is a key focus of the strategy, he said FAITH offers much more.
“This kingdom work is not about drawing a crowd; it’s about building kingdom people. We’re not just growing a church; we’re growing church people,” he said.
“FAITH is the Great Commission, pure and simple,” Doug Williams, the architect of the original FAITH strategy at FBC, Daytona Beach, said in another session at the same conference. “But in many churches, it would be referred to as the ‘Great Omission’ because nobody’s doing it.”
Williams, now an evangelism consultant for LifeWay, shared 10 reasons why churches need FAITH: 1) to be obedient to the Great Commission, 2) to equip members to witness, 3) to help their Sunday school grow, 4) to minister to members, 5) to increase baptisms, 6) to build “Great Commission” Christians, 7) to maintain growth, 8) to straighten Sunday school leadership meetings, 9) to build accountability among members (for witnessing and ministry), and 10) to make an impact on their community.
While FAITH training clinics are open to all churches, participation requires senior pastor endorsement and involvement in the ministry. The registration fee for the pastor is $325 and includes all FAITH teaching resources (videos, PowerPoint presentations, overhead cels, etc.) and training materials (workbooks, tracts), all meals during the clinic and the training itself. Registration for other church members is $125 each and includes training materials, meals and training at the clinic.
FAITH clinics are scheduled in the following states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania/South Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Additional clinic sites are expected to be added in 1999.
For more information, or to register, call LifeWay’s Church Program Training Center at 1-800-254-2022.
The National Sunday School Leadership Conference was sponsored by the Sunday school division of LifeWay Christian Resources.

    About the Author

  • Chip Alford