New strategy to focus on disciple-making, impacting lostnessby BSCNC Communications
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) announced this week a new strategy and staff structure in an effort to more effectively assist local churches in making disciples and reaching the more than 5.8 million lost people in the state with the gospel.
“I consider this a very important and historic day in the life of our Convention,” said Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSCNC executive director-treasurer.
The five-year strategy, which the Executive Committee approved Thursday, April 11, focuses on helping churches evangelize all people groups – in every ethnic or cultural context – by applying disciple-making models with an Acts 1:8 focus.
The strategy calls for a commitment to both strengthening churches and planting churches through facilitation of a disciple-making culture that utilizes a relationship-driven model of consultation, beginning in the most concentrated areas of lostness across the state.
If the Board of Directors endorses the strategy during their May meeting, the report will be presented to Convention messengers in November during the annual meeting, with strategy implementation to begin January 2014.
Why a strategy?
About 60 percent of North Carolina’s 9.7 million residents do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. North Carolina continues to change at a rapid rate, and in ways for which many churches are not prepared to respond.
“Along with other North Carolina Baptists, my heart is burdened about the spiritual condition present in our land today. We are destined for moral ruin and spiritual destruction apart from a supernatural intervention by God that can alter our present course. We must pray for a spiritual awakening unlike anything we have ever seen,” Hollifield said. “We realize that nothing that is set forth and proposed in this strategy can be accomplished apart from a work of the Holy Spirit of the living God.”
The five-year strategy is the culmination of a process that began in September 2010 with the formation of the Vision Fulfillment Committee, which was tasked with determining the perception of North Carolina Baptists related to the fulfillment of the Convention’s vision. The committee held 16 listening sessions across the state in order to hear from North Carolina Baptists.
The Vision Fulfillment Committee brought its report to the Executive Committee in 2011. This is a report that focused on the need for the Convention to develop a five-year strategy that unifies Convention efforts in church strengthening and church planting, and to address communication issues facing the Convention. The Executive Committee received the report and directed Convention staff to develop an appropriate response to the report.
Hollifield assigned two committees of staff members to address church strengthening/church planting and communication matters. These committees submitted recommendations to Hollifield in May 2012. Hollifield then brought their recommendations to a third committee, the Strategy Development Committee. The committee, comprised of 18 staff members, worked for nearly a year to prepare the strategy that Hollifield presented to the Executive Committee this week.
Strengthen and plant new churches
In order to evangelize all people groups the BSCNC must help strengthen churches, as well as plant new churches.
“North Carolina has changed,” Hollifield said. “More than 230 languages are spoken in our public schools. Our state will soon join the remainder of the nation in that there will be no ethnic majority in the coming years.”
If the Convention is to be faithful to Acts 1:8, and to assisting churches in reaching people of all ethnicities, Hollifield said the Convention must have a plan to reach this growing diverse population.
“We propose that this be accomplished through strengthening existing churches and the planting of new churches. Both existing churches and new churches must evangelize the lost in our state,” he said. “If North Carolina Baptists love the lost, we will prepare ourselves to respectfully engage them with the gospel to the glory of our God.”
Disciple-making as priority
Evangelizing all people groups is the first step in disciple-making. Hollifield described disciple-making as both evangelism and discipleship that results in disciples making more disciples.
“We are not satisfied with evangelism being disconnected from discipleship; these two facets of conversion have been kept in two separate silos for too long,” Hollifield said.
Thus, the new strategy calls for the BSCNC to assist churches in developing a disciple-making culture where disciple-making becomes a natural part of the lifestyle of every North Carolina Baptist.
The strategy will also help churches understand that disciple-making is not limited to pastors or church staff; Scripture commands that every believer be a disciple-making believer.
Although lost people live throughout the entire state, the most concentrated areas of lostness in North Carolina are in eight population centers: Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greenville, Hickory, Wilmington, the Triad area (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point) and the Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill).
These pockets of lostness increase every year. The population in North Carolina increased 18 percent from 2000 to 2010. During this same period, the population in these eight areas increased 22 percent, comprising nearly 75 percent of the state population.
“To impact lostness through disciple-making we must have a statewide focus, and we must also emphasize these eight population centers,” Hollifield said. “Our goal is for churches across the state to engage the lost in their own communities and to partner with churches, associations and networks to engage lostness in other communities in our state.”
Hollifield said the goal is for North Carolina Baptist churches to engage unreached people groups in other cities and communities elsewhere across the state.
“We hope that these same church groups who go on mission to a different part of North Carolina to engage unreached people will then recognize that people from that same unreached people group may very well live in their own North Carolina communities,” he said. “What we pray will follow is that this same church family will develop a burden, a plan and a strategy for engaging individuals from that same unreached people group who live elsewhere in North America and in another part of the world – Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
A strategic focus team will lead the work in these eight population areas, with a coordinator serving in each of the eight areas.
Hollifield pledged his commitment to lead Convention staff in fulfilling the strategy’s call for a relationship-driven consulting model. If the strategy is to be successful, Convention staff must focus less on planning programs and more on connecting and building relationships with churches, church leaders and associations.
“We are committing to make every effort to engage all who desire to cooperate in the fulfillment of this strategy,” Hollifield said.
Staff will strive to build relationships with North Carolina Baptists all across the state, from small and large churches, urban and rural churches, to younger and older churches.
“I believe that this strategy, when embraced by the churches and associations of this Convention, will help us fulfill our vision of becoming the strongest force in the history of this Convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel,” Hollifield said.
“I pray that we will commit to embark upon this great journey together, to rescue the perishing and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Christ for the glory of our God.”