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New resources broaden FAITH’s outreach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A new generation of FAITH evangelism resources is being introduced by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Although FAITH has been a thriving strategy for 10 years, this year LifeWay is releasing new FAITH resources that are easier to use and more accessible to churches.

“The DNA of FAITH evangelism is still the same, but with new resources and training” while maintaining “the best of the previous FAITH resources,” said Art Groomes, evangelism and discipleship specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. “FAITH will continue to equip and mobilize believers in lifestyle evangelism, disciple-making and ministry.” FAITH resources now can be used in Bible studies or other small group settings in addition to Sunday School classes, Groomes noted.

Churches no longer will be required to attend a FAITH clinic to receive training and purchase resources. Under the new strategy, state Baptist conventions, local Baptist associations, churches and individuals will work together to train people to share their faith with others.

“The state conventions, associations and FAITH training churches can train so many more people than we ever could,” said Mike Smith, another of LifeWay’s evangelism and discipleship specialists. LifeWay trained more than 8,000 churches in FAITH evangelism from 1998-2007.

Larry Gilmore, the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism, said state conventions likely will partner with churches that successfully use FAITH in broadening FAITH training opportunities. “The churches that use FAITH best will be the most logical trainers,” Gilmore said.

The new resources are being released in three stages:

— “FAITH Evangelism 1,” the introductory 12-week curriculum, or “semester” as it is called, is available now, replacing the existing 16-week “FAITH Basic: A Journey in FAITH.”

Each session is designed to be more interactive and to use various approaches to learning, while participants’ home studies will entail an emphasis on their daily walk with God.

The FAITH Evangelism 1 kit also provides a team leader orientation session for those who lead the three-member teams central to the FAITH strategy of leading people to faith in Christ, often through home visits.

— “FAITH Evangelism 2,” formerly “FAITH Advanced: Building Bridges through FAITH,” will be available this summer, focusing on how to help new believers become disciples and on training FAITH participants to become team leaders.

— “FAITH Evangelism 3,” to be available in the fall, will provide online resources to help leaders utilize other discipleship resources, such as “Experiencing God,” for additional 12-week FAITH semesters.

Groomes said other enhancements to the FAITH curriculum include a more conversational, flexible Gospel presentation which, for example, can be geared to address a postmodern outlook, while Smith described the new material as “stronger in encouraging people to share their faith every day, not just on the evenings they make FAITH visits.”

“But one thing about FAITH that has not changed,” Smith said, “is the reality that it’s the power of the Gospel that changes people.”

The FAITH materials now will be available at LifeWay Christian Stores and through LifeWay’s toll-free and online customer service.

Thom Thornton, director of evangelism and collegiate ministry for the Baptist Convention of Maryland-Delaware, said he encourages churches to choose an evangelism strategy and then implement it. “But, I teach FAITH because I think it’s the best tool available,” Thornton said.

The new FAITH resources can help churches adapt to the changes in their mission fields, Thornton also noted.

“Many ‘country churches’ here in Maryland are rapidly becoming city churches,” Thornton said. “Land around churches that not long ago was farm land is now being developed and turned into huge subdivisions…. Every house, townhouse and condominium represents a household that needs to be reached. Churches will need an evangelism strategy to take on that task.”

Don Satterwhite, pastor of Middle River Baptist Church in Baltimore, where FAITH has been used since 2004, said he had found very little to motivate people to share their faith “until FAITH.”

“One of the reasons I love FAITH is that it works,” Satterwhite said. “At our church, every Sunday School department has a FAITH team and it has been our most effective work.”
Polly House is a corporate communications specialist with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press. For more information on FAITH evangelism and related training events, go to www.lifeway.com/evangelism or call Mike Smith at 615-251-2231. “FAITH Evangelism Equipper Training,” special training for the new FAITH strategy, will be available Oct. 6-7 in Fairview Heights, Ill., and Oct. 27-28 in McLeansville, N.C. No fees will be charged for the conference or materials, with participants providing for their transportation, housing and food expenses.

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  • Polly House & Art Toalston