ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The North American Mission Board plans to invest up to $1.2 million in 2010 on a strategic national media buy during that year’s implementation of the Southern Baptist Convention-wide evangelism emphasis, God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS).
The media buys will include television, radio, newspapers and Internet and will be coordinated with state convention partners in order to ensure that the most effective approach is used in each region. NAMB will coordinate the buys through a single source, produce the media pieces and make them available free of charge to state convention partners that choose to participate in GPS.
“This is a key step in launching an initiative that I pray will help bring evangelism back to the forefront of every Southern Baptist believer and every Southern Baptist church,” said Geoff Hammond, NAMB’s president. “From the beginning, we have determined to make GPS flexible and we have walked with our partners each step of the way. We will do that in our approach to these media buys as well.”
As state conventions commit to participating in GPS, NAMB will work closely with Southern Baptist state convention leaders in those states to strategize the best media approach for that state. States able to contribute more funding to the effort will be encouraged to do so.
NAMB already has begun producing media that will be used in the GPS campaign. In late 2008, NAMB commissioned a comprehensive survey designed to discover the most effective media tools to use when sharing Christ with those not in the church and those who do not have a relationship with Christ. The survey was conducted by LifeWay Research.
“So far our research shows us there is no approach more effective than an individual personally sharing Christ with a friend or family member,” Hammond said. “So we should never expect media to take the place of a one-on-one contact. But there are clearly things we can do to till the soil of a person’s life so he or she will be more open when someone is there to plant a seed.”
Hammond introduced GPS to Southern Baptists in June 2008 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. At that time, NAMB had already been developing the strategy with convention partners and local associations for nearly two years. In working so closely with state and local partners, NAMB’s goal is to make GPS adaptable enough to adjust to local and regional specific needs and sensitivities, yet cohesive enough to give the denomination a single point around which to organize evangelism activities.
Baptist associations in five states — Texas, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, California and Georgia — will begin piloting GPS materials this year in their areas. Information obtained in the pilots will shape final versions of initial GPS resources that will be available for 2010.
In addition, NAMB is readying a personal evangelism resource that will be released prior to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Ky. “RELAY: Sharing Your Faith Your Way” is designed to help Christians find their “fit” for evangelism based on their personality profile. The resource, which includes a participants guide, book and DVD, is designed to be used in a six-week, small group study.
“The purpose of this national media buy is to undergird the church in her task of being obedient to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” said Ken Weathersby, NAMB’s senior strategist for evangelization. “Just imagine the church prayer-walking the community and praying for those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. Just imagine the church sowing the Gospel as trained witnesses with family members, friends and neighbors.”
For more information about God’s Plan for Sharing, visit www.gps2020.net. Mike Ebert is coordinator of publications and media relations for the North American Mission Board.