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New, experienced FAITH participants attend national training institute

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (BP)-“The only way you can fail at FAITH is to either not enroll or not re-enroll,” Tom Lynn, FAITH director at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, told 378 people attending a national FAITH training institute, Jan. 10-13, at the Florida church.

“God takes ordinary people like you and me and uses us in a very powerful way,” Lynn told participants in the first national institute offering two tracks for people new to FAITH and those with at least one semester of experience.

FAITH combines evangelism and Sunday school into a single strategy. It originated at the Daytona Beach church and has been introduced to Southern Baptists by LifeWay Christian Resources. FAITH additionally is endorsed by the North American Mission Board.

The institute track included workshops to help those with FAITH experience to develop their skills and effectiveness. Also, it represented intentional efforts to build a national network of FAITH practitioners, enable them to hear testimonies of successful FAITH experiences and participate in discussion times during which they could share questions, ideas and strategies.

Welcoming participants to the host church, pastor Bobby Welch, developer of the FAITH strategy, said, “By the end of this week, over 4,500 churches will be FAITH churches.”

Sean Allen, minister of education at First Baptist, Daytona Beach, told participants new to the strategy, “Enrolling in and participating in FAITH makes you feel like a special person.

“There is nothing that will beat the joy you’ll have when people you’ve led to the Lord are there in Sunday school and people who had been inactive come back to church and get involved.”

Debbie Wise, a member of First Baptist and a FAITH team member, said, “FAITH is very special to my husband and me since it was because of a FAITH team that we became Christians.”

Wise told how a member of First Baptist had invited her to church one evening last spring while they were both waiting for their children to finish a karate class. A FAITH team then visited the couple and led Wise and her husband to the Lord. They joined First Baptist and were baptized.

“In the fall when a new semester of FAITH started, we were asked if we’d like to be on a FAITH team. Of course, we said yes,” Wise said.

On their second night out, they were assigned a couple to visit. “We had to look all over for the apartment, but we weren’t going to give up,” she said. The team talked with the couple, and explained, using the F-A-I-T-H method, how they could accept Christ.

“They both prayed to receive Christ,” Wise said, “Now I know why the FAITH team that visited us was so excited!”

“You never know how FAITH may be affecting your children,” Wise said. “Our 8-year-old was talking to a friend when he asked him, ‘If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven?’ His friend answered that he wasn’t sure, so our son said, ‘You need to go talk to my dad!'”

Jim Butler, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Southaven, Miss., said, through FAITH, “our church has had a life-changing experience. In the past three months, we’ve seen 200 people come to know Christ. About 120 of them have been baptized, and we’re working on the rest.”

Emphasizing the importance of both evangelism and ministry, Butler said, “If all you get out of this is just evangelism, you’ve missed the mark. Evangelism is very important, but in this same three months, we’ve also had 300 people enrolled in Sunday school. We’ve got 40 new classes.”

He told of a couple, Charles and Beverly, who prayed to receive Christ and were baptized. “Charles asked us if we would go visit his mother and tell her about Jesus. We did and she was saved. Then Charles’ brother and son were saved. Now, we’re still praying for his father.

“FAITH is a lot like the flu. It’s contagious!” Butler continued. “It knocks you off your feet and onto your knees. It fills up the hospital, in our case, the church, with people who are sick and need to be healed.”

On the last night of the institute, participants joined with members of Daytona Beach First Baptist to go out through the city, visiting in homes and also conducting opinion polls. A celebration service was then held during which experiences were shared. Testimonies included:
— “When we asked a man if he knew what it took to get to heaven, he said, ‘Wings, it takes wings.’ When we asked how he thought he would get those wings, he replied, ‘My wife takes care of everything else. She’ll take care of that, too.'”
* “There was a young mother with a 2-year-old hanging all over her. We presented the gospel and she prayed to receive Christ. Then she asked if it would be all right if she invited two other people to church.”
* “We visited a woman who was divorced. She asked if we liked divorced people at this church. I told her we loved divorced people at this church. I told her that, in fact, I taught a Sunday school class that has a lot of divorced people in it. She and her two children will be here this Sunday.”

Bob Metcalf, LifeWay Sunday school ministry events specialist, listed results from the visitation night:
* Churches represented-131.
* Teams visiting-116.
* Opinion polls attempted-1,291.
* Opinion polls completed-696.
* Gospel presentations-284.
* Professions of faith-82.
* People enrolled in Sunday school-44.
* Prospects discovered-340.

Jay Johnston, director of LifeWay’s Sunday school/FAITH ministry department, said institute participation included churches from 75 in Sunday school/Bible study to well over 8,000 enrolled.

A second conference hosting both the FAITH Institute track and the basic FAITH clinic will be held Aug. 21-24 at First Baptist Church, Carrollton, Texas, in suburban Dallas. People wanting to attend can register by calling 1-800-254-2022 or e-mail [email protected]

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