PHOENIX (BP)–Michael Lewis knows firsthand what a little FAITH can do.
The 34-year-old pastor has a heart for evangelism but couldn’t figure out how to effectively get his church to share the same burden for lost souls.
“We tried every evangelism program I could think of, and we never had more than 10 at Monday night visitation,” he said. “Then we started FAITH and we averaged 150 every week.”
Lewis recently moved from that church, First Baptist Richmond Hill in Savanna, Ga., to Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. He said FAITH training was the first order of business in his new congregation.
“We went from 250 in Sunday School to 950 and more than 1,200 in worship in a couple of years because of FAITH,” he said. “Most of that growth was through new converts. The reason is because FAITH turns a church that is inward-focused to being outward-focused. FAITH equips Sunday Schools to reach out to the unchurched people in a community and bring them into a group that will accept them.”
FAITH is a five-year-old evangelism strategy produced by LifeWay Christian Resources. More than 29,000 people and 7,300 churches have been trained through 370-plus clinics. Lewis was challenged by a friend to lead his church through FAITH training. Now Lewis has signed on to challenge other pastors to give FAITH a try.
Lewis was among about 100 pastors who attended the FAITH Force Multipliers luncheon June 17 in Phoenix during the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The purpose of the luncheon was to encourage pastors involved in FAITH ministries to help expand the FAITH network and, as a result, the Kingdom of God.
“We need churches to rapidly multiply themselves,” said Gene Mims, LifeWay’s church resources vice president. “We needed to figure out the ministry of the Sunday School and how to move that to a more Kingdom-focused strategy. FAITH is the answer. The reason we need that is because we can add churches, but the task of reaching the lost won’t get done. The task of reaching our communities for Christ will only come if churches multiply.”
FAITH originated at First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., under pastor Bobby Welch. Churches using the FAITH evangelism approach can be found in 49 states and 12 countries.
“The great thing about FAITH is that it fits any size church,” Welch said. “Big churches can’t win North America to Christ, but the church at large can win not only North America but the world. FAITH involves everybody.”
Mims and Welch challenged the pastors to “sign on” as Force Multipliers — pastors of churches already using FAITH who partner to teach the approach to other churches. Each pastor was encouraged to commit to enlisting at least five other churches to participate between now and next year’s SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.
“It is easy to focus on everything that is wrong in our world today,” Mims said, “or we can focus on everything that is right about the Gospel and the difference it can make in the lives of people.”
Lewis knows that difference because he’s seen it firsthand. One of the members of his former church struggled with alcohol and had been married five times. Lewis shared the Gospel with the man and after he accepted Christ then trained him in FAITH. In the two years since, the man has led more than 240 people to Christ.
“Getting people trained in FAITH is what we plan to do at Great Hills,” Lewis said. “And once we do that we are going to get other churches involved. We want to see our holy huddles transformed into an army of soldiers that takes the Gospel into the world.”