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Southern Baptist youth leaders meet with Campus Crusade staff

EULESS, Texas (BP)–Eight Southern Baptist leaders in evangelizing teenagers met with eight Campus Crusade for Christ officials in the first meeting of a “Great Commission Task Force.”

The Feb. 24 meeting at First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas, was a follow-up to a mid-January conference in Atlanta which concluded with plans for creating a task force to study the possibility of the two groups collaborating in evangelizing America’s student population with the gospel.

The meeting’s convenor, Jay Strack, a Southern Baptist evangelist based in Orlando, Fla., said the informal talks between Southern Baptist ministers and consultants and key Campus Crusade personnel were “to prayerfully explore the possibility of joint Campus Crusade and Southern Baptist efforts to reach the campuses of North America.”

“At the Atlanta meeting,” Strack said, “we were exploring whether this was really a divine opportunity for Campus Crusade and Southern Baptists to work together to fulfill the Great Commission. In this meeting we did a lot of ‘blue sky’ thinking about evangelizing the student population of our nation. There is real urgency — we believe we’re in the fourth quarter of the ball game, and that whatever we’re going to do about fulfilling the Great Commission, we need to be in a holy hurry about it.

“One of the most compelling questions for our generation is, ‘What are we going to do to reach every middle school, high school and college campus for Christ by the year 2000?’ Jesus’ last commission should be our first concern.”

The task force will report its progress to Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee; James T. Draper Jr., president of the Baptist Sunday School Board; and William “Bill” Bright, president of Campus Crusade.

Members of the task force were selected from a list of Southern Baptist and Campus Crusade leaders and workers suggested during the meeting in Atlanta. Strack said they were chosen because of their innovation and effectiveness in evangelizing teens.

“We’re greatly distressed at the number (lack) of youth baptisms. According to the latest statistics from the SBC Home Mission Board, only seven Southern Baptist churches baptized 100 teenagers last year. Some think there may be as many as 12, but even at that, it is still tragic,” Strack said. “If you’re asking me who ought to be there (in the task force), I say we ought to call the seven guys that have been baptizing 100 teenagers and get them there.”

Southern Baptist youth specialists joining Strack at the meeting were: Jeff Chandler, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, Ga.; John Cope, First Baptist Church, Springdale, Ark.; David Riggle, Second Baptist Church, Houston; Phil Newberry, Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn.; Johnny Derousen, Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas; Chuck Flowers, director of youth evangelism for the Baptist General Convention of Texas; and Bill Henry, National Student Ministry director with the Baptist Sunday School Board, Nashville, Tenn.

Also invited, Strack said, but unable to attend were Dean Finley, HMB; Ike Reighard, pastor of Northstar Community Church, Atlanta; Doug Fields, Saddleback Community Church, Lake Forest, Calif.; and Richard Ross, BSSB.

Representing Campus Crusade were Mark Schatzman, Chuck Klein, Steve Douglas, Dan Hardaway, Steve Olander, Bob Tiedi, Josh McDowell and Ron Proctor.

Campus Crusade for Christ, based in Orlando, is a para-church organization known for its evangelistic ministries on college and high school campuses.

Strack emphasized the task force was “non-official” and it recognizes the leadership role the new North American Mission Board has to play in evangelization efforts in the United States. The purpose of the task force, he said, is “to put our best minds together to determine how we can work jointly. We hope to make suggestions to NAMB after the SBC meeting in June. By then, there would already have been enough serious homework done so that whoever assumes the leadership of NAMB would be in a position, if he felt led of God, to move forward with it. We’re just trying to save six to eight months of very critical time.”

Adrian Rogers, pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church, said the tone of the Atlanta meeting “was not one of merger, but one of cooperation at common points. It seemed that all who were present felt that in this day and age we need to move radically, dramatically and swiftly to tell the good news.”

The task force will meet again April 17 in Atlanta.

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  • Bill Merrell