Month: February 2022

‘Who’s Your One’ campaign leads to growth in East Texas church

HENDERSON, Texas — In Texas’s Rusk County, at least two churches closed because of the pandemic. So, pastor David Higgs of First Baptist Church (FBC) in Henderson, Texas, knew his church couldn’t sit in neutral and expect to endure the challenges.

“There are plenty of unchurched and lost people in our community. God wants to use this church to reach the nation for Christ,” said Higgs.

He took his whole staff to Longview last year to attend a Who’s Your One Tour stop at Mobberly Baptist Church to help them get their evangelistic program on track.

The staff at FBC Henderson left Longview brainstorming ways they could tailor the content they had learned to fit their church.

“You know, one of the things we liked about Who’s Your One in the context of COVID is that it did not require a big event. Four people can meet together and socially distance if they want,” said Higgs.

First Baptist Church Henderson believes that a “Church on Mission” honors God, loves people and meets needs.

“For me as a pastor, I had no idea if anything would happen. We rallied the church to do the Who’s Your One strategy, not knowing if we would reach a single person,” said Higgs.

At the beginning of the campaign, Pastor Higgs asked his churchgoers, “Is it a bad time for a campaign? Well, yeah, it’s COVID time, but isn’t it just like God! So, many people are hurting; so many people need the help and the hope that only Jesus Christ can provide. So, maybe it’s just God’s timing that He’s having our church do this campaign during this time.”

Higgs and his leadership team tailored Who’s Your One to their church’s culture and context.

“It made a difference for us. We added evangelism training, and we produced little table tents that we gave to every person to put around in their house that would remind them to pray for their one,” said Higgs. “We put posters around the building. We planned it into a two-month campaign.”

They organized prayer meetings at the church every night throughout the whole campaign, too.

“It was an outdoor prayer meeting, and we just met outside for 15-20 minutes. Some nights we had a dozen attend, and other nights, we had 65 or 70 people. And, then we had membership commitment cards. We asked people to commit to the Who’s Your One campaign, and we had three hundred members sign up to participate,” Higgs explained.

They put every person who signed up into teams of four, each with a team captain, and they met once a week.

“We asked them to meet Sunday before church or after church to encourage one another and to keep one another accountable,” said Higgs. “As their pastor, I sent out a weekly email to all 300 participants to encourage them and to give them updates. And, then the last thing we did was give everyone that signed up—all 300 people—NAMB’s Who’s Your One resources, the 30-day devotional book and the 30-day prayer guide.”

Toward the end of the campaign, the church planned a new and prospective members luncheon so everybody could bring their one to eat and find out more about the church.

The church has seen 41 people come to faith so far as a result of the campaign.

“We achieve more if we get all the people of God to do all the work of God. The more people we can get engaged in evangelism, the more we will reach,” said Higgs. “It reminds me that God does reward our evangelistic efforts.”

Pastor Higgs explained that evangelism impacts every part of the church, from the person who greets to worship and prayer. Even children become involved.

“Evangelism doesn’t just belong to the North American Mission Board,” Higgs said. “It belongs to the Body of Christ, and you know, we’re all different. God made us all different, so pastors have to think about their specific flock.”

Pastor Higgs hopes to make Who’s Your One an annual event every fall.

“Who’s Your One helped us organize our church for outreach amid COVID,” he said. “It was a great help to our church to find some traction in evangelism during this hard season. If we continue to do what God leads us to do in sharing the name of Christ with somebody, that’s not failure, that’s success.”

“Why Anaheim?” you ask … here’s why

Even though the SBC is the largest convention of churches in world, personal relationships are key when it comes to our cooperative work. First, our relationships with Jesus Christ and, second, our relationship with one another.

Each year, the SBC annual meeting gives us an opportunity to renew those relationships face to face. Whether it’s spending time with pastors and church leaders who serve in other parts of the country, talking with convention entity leaders or meeting new friends in the exhibit hall, the annual meeting is all about relationships.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the meeting in many ways, even leading to the cancellation of the 2020 meeting.

In addition, the 2022 meeting’s placement in California has caused some to ask about the distance, cost and purpose related to the rotation of the meeting’s location.

Why Anaheim in 2022?

Messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting approve host cities

At the June 2016 meeting of the SBC Executive Committee, the members of the EC voted to award the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting to the City of Anaheim. Steve Swofford, chairman of the Convention Arrangements workgroup, made the recommendation to messengers to the 2016 SBC Annual Meeting in St. Louis. This recommendation was approved by the messengers (SBC Annual, page 67) without opposition.

In awarding the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting to the City of Anaheim, messengers followed a time-honored tradition of moving the annual meeting to different regions of the country in the spirit of showcasing how God is moving in and through Southern Baptists in a particular area.

Looking ahead, messengers have approved Charlotte, N.C. for the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting, Indianapolis for the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting, Dallas for the 2025 SBC Annual Meeting and Orlando for the 2026 meeting.

How is a meeting site changed?

Under Article XI of the SBC Constitution, there are only two ways for the annual meeting to be relocated.

The first way is for the Executive Committee to make the change if the “entertaining city withdraws its invitation or is unable to fulfill its commitments.”

The second way is for the Convention officers, the Executive Committee and the executive heads of the Convention’s boards and institutions to act as a body and cancel the regular meeting or change the place of the meeting “in case of a grave emergency.”

At this time, the city of Anaheim has not indicated it has any plans to withdraw from its contract due to the COVID pandemic or COVID-related restrictions. In fact, the Anaheim Convention Center Calendar of Events is loaded with events on an almost daily basis.

What about COVID-19 guidelines?

COVID-19 continues to be a struggle for event organizers across the country. Thankfully, local officials in Orange County have hosted and continue to host events as large as, and even larger than, Southern Baptists’ expected gathering in June. Guidelines also continue to change as cases rise and fall. In 2021, the SBC meeting’s COVID-19 guidelines continued to change as the event approached. Guidelines will likely change between now and June, Baptist Press will communicate those as the event approaches. For an overview of current guidelines, please visit the city’s website.

More about California

The 2022 Annual Meeting will be just the fifth meeting west of the Rockies in more than 30 years. Traveling to the West Coast roughly once every six years is far from the burden many of those out West endure to participate the other five years. In fact, it has been more than 40 years since the meeting was held in California.

Finally, California – the most populous state in America – is the largest state convention in the SBC outside of the South. There are nearly 1,800 Southern Baptist churches in California with more than 400,000 members.

Reaching California with the Gospel has long been a part of the strategic mission of Southern Baptists. This was in fact part of the impetus for placing what is now Gateway Seminary in California when it was founded in 1944.

Hosting the annual meeting in different locations allows Southern Baptists to see how God is at work in different regions and cities across the United States.

This article originally appeared on Baptist Press.