Leaders reflect on IECSby C. Walter Overman
Although every church is called by God to engage in evangelism, a one-size-fits-all approach does not exist. Every local church must develop an effective strategy to evangelize its community.
That principle is the driving force behind the Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS). IECS is a comprehensive, five-part evangelism initiative that assists pastors and churches, in their unique context, to be intentional in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) executive leader for evangelization, developed IECS through his experiences and research during which time he discovered five core components of evangelism applicable to every church.
“God has called us to make disciples in our communities,” McCutcheon said. “When churches implement this strategy they begin to reach their communities for Christ.”
Since 1997, more than 200 churches have used IECS to help enhance their evangelism efforts. About 40 percent of those churches doubled their number of baptisms within two years of implementing the strategy.
The BSCNC provides statewide and regional IECS training throughout the year. During three days of instruction, participants learn how to incorporate evangelism into every aspect of church life through evangelistic leadership, evangelistic prayer, event evangelism, assimilation and personal evangelism.
Here’s what several leaders had to say about IECS during a recent three-day training seminar:
Marvin Green, Director of Missions, Sandy Run Baptist Association
Green has attended three IECS training seminars, and they have made such a positive impact on him that he regularly teaches it to pastors and churches in his association. “I was a pastor for almost 40 years and I went to a lot of conferences and I gained something from all of them, but I’ve never had one affect me like IECS,” Green said. “It has been the most profound change agent in my ministry. So I can ask these pastors to do it because I know the difference it can make.”
Green said the effectiveness and adaptability of IECS make it an essential tool for pastors. “It’s a strategy, not a program. Most pastors don’t want another program to put into their churches,” he said. “It can be adapted no matter the size of the church and can be plugged into what they are already doing.”
All five components are important and beneficial, but the prayer component has benefited Green the most. “I know that if you strengthen that particular ministry the potential is great to reach the lost,” he said. “A few of my churches have caught the understanding of that importance and have begun to focus on evangelistic praying.”
Shannon Scott, Pastor, Mount Vernon Baptist Church, Raleigh
In addition to attending several IECS seminars with his staff over the years, Scott’s church has served as a regular venue for statewide and associational IECS trainings. He believes IECS offers comprehensive training unlike anything else.
What Scott likes most about IECS is the way it encourages churches and pastors to prioritize disciple-making. “If you don’t keep bumping it, the devil just pushes it out. And that’s what happens. We start right, and we know that evangelism is dear to our hearts, but given time we drift away,” he said. “Sometimes we need that urge to get back on track. That’s what IECS does.”
Another aspect Scott appreciates is the variety of information that comes from McCutcheon’s years of experience equipping pastors and churches in reaching the lost. “You need someone who has learned from a number of different pastors to show you the variety of effective evangelism,” he said.
Ed Rose, Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Wendell
Two full-time staff members and four lay elders from Central Baptist joined Rose during the three-day training. “I brought the staff because I wanted us to hear firsthand the same things and to be able to discuss the things together, so that we will be aligned in our thinking as we go through our annual planning,” he said. “I think it is important for our ministry teams to hear from someone else other than the pastor.”
Rose prays that the training proves fruitful for Central. “Hopefully it will permeate the entire body, so that we will become more intentional in all of our ministry activities in terms of being evangelistic,” Rose said. “My hope and dream is that the strategy will become lived out by our people.”
For more information on upcoming IECS training visit www.ncbaptist.org/iecs