‘Pacesetter’ churches report on ‘what works’ in baptisms

JEFFERSON CITY – Mark Snowden, evangelism/discipleship strategist for the Missouri Baptist Convention has been picking apart the Annual Church Profile (ACP) data on baptisms, reaching out to churches of various sizes that report the most baptisms and compiling their success stories.

“Each year we celebrate categories of churches based on size,” Snowden said. “Missouri Baptists call this the Pacesetters. I asked several of the pastors and ministers of missions how they had baptisms and what they did to help new believers become disciple-makers.” 

Here is some of the responses he has collected:

From Brad Graves, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Joplin:

“It is only by God’s grace and favor that we have seen anyone baptized,” he reported to Snowden. “God is already at work, so pray. We say around here to ‘never talk to men about God until you have talked to God about men.’ The gospel is powerful to save – so present it clearly. Our job as pastors is to make the gospel clear and easy to understand. We have a commitment to share the gospel at every event we do, period.”

From Bob Caldwell, pastor of outreach at First Baptist Church in Arnold:

“We can point to no one thing that God is using to bring people to Himself through salvation and baptism,” reported to Snowden. “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our prayer ministry,” Caldwell said. “We have over 400 people that receive an email every Monday morning asking them to pray for specific things. We pray that everything we do inside our building will be done with excellence because we are doing it unto the Lord.”

From John Swadley, lead pastor at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin:

“Only God can save a lost soul, and only the Spirit of God can give people the faith to follow Christ’s command to be baptized,” he reported to Snowden. “However, we are called to sow the seed, and we try to do so faithfully. For example, in most every service, we share the gospel, as well as the command to be baptized, even if salvation isn’t the theme of the day. We frequently remind people of our outreach strategy which we call I3. We challenge our people to invest, invite, and involve.”

From Neil Franks, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Branson:

“One, we launched a major change in Sunday morning bible study so that all classes used the T4T Training for Trainers series,” he reported to Snowden. “Second, we had all small groups go through a series called ‘Just Walk Across The Room.’ Third, we do lots of community outreach events including the largest attended community event in Branson in the summer, our Back-to-School Bash. Those three methods are certainly not an end to themselves as we encourage all kinds of creative ways to share about Jesus including Facebook, Twitter and now our new devotional app, the 2-Minute Pastor.”

From Richie Rhea, senior pastor, First Baptist Church in Troy: 

“We put an emphasis on Baptism,” he reported to Snowden. “We set a date about two months out, announce it weekly and provide a Bible Study we’ve written on baptism which we ask folks to read. Baptism teaches us the gospel – the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It gives us a way to express our faith in Christ. I believe that if every church would set a date on which they plan to baptize – teach it – plan for it – make a big deal out of it – the Lord would bless with folks coming out of faith in Christ to be baptized.”