Annual meeting panels to focus on post-COVID evangelism, revitalization

In the midst of a somewhat simplified annual meeting schedule for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin, the Tuesday Nov. 10 schedule contains three panels on relevant subjects. One panel will take place in the main session and two will take place during lunch.

The main stage panel will be during the Tuesday morning session and is entitled “Re-engaging the Heart: Keeping Focused on the Mission,” and it is themed around the charge given to Jesus’ followers in Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and] to the end of the earth.”

“With so much uncertainty in our world, it remains essential that we maintain the mission God has given us,” said Lance Crowell, panel moderator and SBTC church ministry associate. 

Panelists will include Gregg Matte, pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church; Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Caleb Turner, assistant pastor at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church; and IMB missionary Alex Traverston. 

“Churches can be tempted to focus on the logistics of ministry, while losing the hope and focus of our calling. God has redeemed and commissioned us to be his witnesses, and that has not changed in the midst of the circumstances with which we find ourselves,” Crowell added. “This panel will look to inspire, challenge and educate leaders to maintain the mission in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth.”

The two president’s panels will be held back-to-back during lunch. The first, “The Revitalized Church in a Post-COVID World,” will be moderated by Kenneth Priest, SBTC director of convention strategies.

“The panel is designed to think about how a church can re-engage missionally while COVID is still impacting gathering and how, especially in a revitalization context, churches may be experiencing a need for spiritual renewal even if pre-COVID they did not,” Priest said.

Panelists include SBTC consultant Mike Landry; Matt Queen; Randy Spitzer, pastor of Caribbean Baptist Church; and Andrew Johnson, pastor of Faith Memorial Baptist Church.

The second panel, “Reaching the Next Generation in a Post-COVID World,” will be moderated by NAMB next-gen evangelism director Shane Pruitt.

“Looking at things big-picture evangelistically, churches are saying that they want to see baptism numbers go up, they want to see people reached for the gospel. And the next generation is where that’s going to happen,” Pruitt said. “According to polls, 77 percent of born-again Christians made a commitment to Christ before the age of 17. So now is the time to reach them, and if you wait you miss a generation. 

“If there’s a blessing to COVID it’s that it has opened people’s eyes in a way and they are more aware that they’re not guaranteed tomorrow. Gen Z especially, who are agenda-weary and propaganda-weary—they’re searching for truth.”

The panelists for this second session include Brent Isbill, pastor of Epic Life Church in New Braunfels; Jessica Kowalski, college minister at Great Hills Baptist Church; Jason Mick, student pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church; Hannah Lee Duffey, children’s minister at Hyde Park Baptist Church; and Rylan Scott, student pastor at Houston Northwest Church.

The lunch panels will begin at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday and include a free boxed lunch for all attendees. No registration is required for the lunches. 

TEXAN Correspondent
Rob Collingsworth
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