NAMB training helps churches develop evangelistic culture

NAPLES, Florida (BP) – When Pastor Chris Butler took the helm at North Naples Baptist Church in 2016, he inherited a congregation on the brink of closure, dwindled to just 40 members. Just two weeks into his pastoral tenure, multiple outside ministries came to him and asked whether the church was selling its building.

“Just give us a chance,” he responded. “I just got boots on the ground.”

Butler then focused on helping the church become healthy through effective evangelistic and missions-focused strategies. Over the next eight years, God took North Naples from 40 attendees to more than 400. Representatives from 37 nations recently attended the church during its International Sunday.

Despite this remarkable growth, Butler is keenly aware that their journey isn’t over. Last month, the church hosted the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) Evangelism Kit Training, reflecting their ongoing commitment to keep learning. “I wish I could tell you we have it all figured out,” Butler said. “It’s still a moving target.”

During the two- to three-hour evangelism kit training, a NAMB trainer introduced Butler and other local Southern Baptist pastors to ways in which they can build a sustainable evangelistic culture in their church.

“It starts with an introspective look at our own spiritual health, assessing how church leaders are doing personally and how our families and pastoral teams are doing,” said Mark Hobafcovich, NAMB’s national director of multi-ethnic evangelism and training. “From there, we can help churches develop a culture where evangelism is not just a campaign but a part of its DNA, truly embracing the Great Commission.”

The free training walks churches through all aspects of NAMB’s Evangelism Kit. Southern Baptist churches can order this free kit on NAMB’s website. It includes a variety of training and resources churches can use to create a sustainable culture of evangelism.

The training starts by assessing a church’s current approach to evangelism, then moves on to ways to get the entire congregation involved. It introduces evangelism training modules that churches can provide for congregants and lays out some practical steps for putting the kit’s instruction into action. Plus, the training gives church leaders a heads-up on other resources and tools designed to help their people share the Gospel more effectively.

Hobafcovich emphasized that NAMB designed the kit and the training to help pastors develop an evangelistic culture that will permeate the entire church. This transformation turns individual commitment to soul-winning into a collective mission, where members not only embrace evangelism but also experience and multiply its impact through discipleship.

Echoing NAMB’s hope for these workshops, Butler says his church’s biggest takeaway was learning how to better mobilize the church’s leadership toward the evangelistic culture it described. For example, the church is planning to take its care group leaders through the kit training in the fall.

NAMB’s Evangelism Kit Training at North Naples Baptist was one of six such trainings around Florida during the last half of April 2024. In total, 771 Florida Baptists took part in the training. Hobafcovich noted that Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director Tommy Green specifically asked for NAMB to take the training to each of the convention’s six regions throughout the state.

“We are grateful for the partnership with the North American Mission Board and the Florida Baptist Convention,” Green said. “The recent statewide evangelism training continued building the culture of evangelism in our churches. The feedback from our pastors and churches reflected the quality and content of the sessions. The commitment of our pastors and churches to reach Florida for Christ is enhanced through these opportunities.”

NAMB has future evangelism kit training sessions planned in several other states, including Michigan, California, Mississippi, and Arizona.

Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, Florida, hosted one of the Florida trainings. Eddie Bevell, the church’s pastor, said for years the church’s evangelism strategy centered on more scripted approaches to sharing Christ. While the approach worked for a period of time, he says the church eventually noticed it losing its effectiveness. They’ve now shifted toward a conversational approach but have struggled to train the congregation effectively in this.

Bevell said he appreciates that the NAMB training pointed the church to resources that can help them equip the congregation in those Gospel conversations.

Bevell mentioned that other churches had some interesting ways to keep evangelism in front of the congregation, like publicly displaying the first names of people they’re sharing the Gospel with.

“We actually debriefed on that,” Bevell said. “We all walked away with the realization that there was some good stuff there. Some examples might not fit our culture, but the idea of making a bigger deal about publicly encouraging evangelism every Sunday, or many Sundays a year in a meaningful way, is something we don’t do enough.”

Hobafcovich hopes these training workshops can help churches prioritize evangelism and reach more people with the good news.

“It’s about making the last command of Jesus – the Great Commission – our first priority, ensuring that evangelism isn’t just an activity, but a central focus,” he said. “Let’s make it the main thing and not just something we get around to. By doing so, we demonstrate how the transformative power of the Gospel can impact lives not only here but eternally.”

To get the kit and find out more about this training opportunity, visit namb.net/evangelism.

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