New project helps churches make disciples

Helping churches become more effective in winning people to Christ and in discipling the people they win are the purposes of a new initiative of the SBTC evangelism team. Empower Evangelism Strategy Consultations are designed to assist churches in developing approaches, ideas, and plans for reaching their communities with the gospel.

“The most effective evangelistic churches in Texas keep evangelism at the forefront of virtually everything they do,” said SBTC Ministry Strategist Jim Gatliff, who coordinates the Empower consultation project. “We look at the many things that make the main thing happen.”

Empower Consultations are free of charge to any SBTC church.

“For the investment of a few hours, a pastor and his church can get clearer insight into the community, a better awareness of the church’s needs and opportunities, some dynamite evangelistic ideas, and a plan that will really work,” Gatliff said.

Gatliff said more than 13 million people in Texas are spiritually lost and almost 45 percent of the 24 million people in the Lone Star State are not claimed by any church. The number of adults not attending church has more than doubled in the last 15 years.

“The huge majority of Baptist churches today, however, do not have healthy and effective approaches to winning people to Christ,” said Gatliff, citing a recent study conducted by the Landrum Leavell Center at New Orleans Seminary that found 89 percent of Southern Baptist churches are not experiencing healthy evangelistic growth. “Lost people are everywhere, but Southern Baptists have been flat-lining on baptisms for almost 50 years.”

“Most would agree that we are falling behind in reaching the growing population of Texas,” said Don Cass, SBTC director of evangelism. “Vance Havner once stated, ‘The great tragedy today is that the situation is desperate, but the saints are not.’ Desperate situations move us to take desperate measures.”

“Never has there been a greater need for intentional evangelism,” Cass said. “Intentional evangelism requires an intentional plan. It is impossible for the church to take on the likeness of our Heavenly Father and not plan. From the foundation of the world, God planned our redemption. Jesus came to fulfill the Father’s plan, ‘to seek and save those who are lost.’ Show me a church that is serious about reaching the lost and I will show you a church and pastor with a visionary plan to win their area of influence to the Savior.”

“I found that time spent with Jim Gatliff was rewarding,” said Charles Grasty, pastor of First Baptist Church of Neches. “He was well informed, shared great ‘do-able’ ideas and helped by bringing a demographic of our area. He listened to Kevin Simmons, our minister to students, as much as he talked. He was determined to find our spiritual blood pressure. He opened our eyes to some of the pitfalls we were facing, the holes in our bucket and prioritized ideas to plug the holes.”

Empower Evangelism Consultations are designed to help pastors and their churches better see and understand their mission field, discover methods that maximize the evangelistic impact of their churches, and fully mobilize their people for a great harvest.

“We feel that there is a great opportunity for many SBTC churches to rise to a new level of evangelistic effectiveness and kingdom impact,” Gatliff said.

“Mounds of research have documented what effective evangelistic churches do to reach people. These same things are also demonstrated in the pages of the New Testament. Churches, however, must do them in the Holy Spirit’s power,” Gatliff said. “Embedded in every aspect of our approach is a call to SBTC churches to seek the Lord and to experience spiritual renewal. Without him we can do absolutely nothing.”

The SBTC’s Empower Consultations focus on eight key dynamics that stimulate and support the evangelistic effectiveness of a church: environment, emphasis, events, example, enlistment, equipping, empowerment, and engagement.

“The first four dynamics emphasize the creation of an evangelistic atmosphere in a church. The latter four center on the mobilization of church members to evangelize the community,” Gatliff said.

The simple Empower Consultation process begins with a survey completed by the pastor and staff to indicate the strengths, needs, and opportunities of the church related to each of the eight key dynamics.
“The survey helps us see, for example, how evangelistic the Sunday School program is, what kind of evangelistic examples are being set by leaders of the church, and what the church is doing to equip its members to share their faith,” Gatliff said.

Next, an SBTC evangelism consultant will meet with the pastor, and anyone else he wants to include, for an on-site consultation.

“We look at the church’s current evangelism strategies and go over key demographics regarding the church’s mission field. We also suggest ways the church can continually improve its evangelistic impact,” Gatliff said. “Sometimes pastors are aware of some of the demographic and psychographic data regarding their community, but they don’t fully understand what it all means or what to do reach different groups in their mission field.”

“We bring to any church another pair of ‘evangelism eyes’ and a fresh set of proven-yet-innovative ideas for reaching people.”

SBTC churches may schedule an Empower Evangelism Strategy Consultation by contacting Jim Gatliff at 817-552-2500 or sending an e-mail to

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