Passion and Purpose

We have heard for several years now that up to 75 percent of SBC churches are either plateaued or declining. Other than church planting, revitalization has become one of the most needed ministries in our convention because, on average, about two SBTC churches a month close their doors. I may be guilty of being overly simplistic, but I believe there is a cure for the disease that is decimating our ranks. It is called intentional, personal evangelism.

Old school terminology would use the term, soul-winning. Paul charged his understudy, Timothy, with the responsibility to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). For the church to have a successful evangelism effort, it must be pastor-led. Every church can rebound if they will be committed to reaching their community with the gospel.

For this reason, let me invite you to the SBTC Empower Conference at the Irving Convention Center Feb. 27-28. There are multiple options for conferences across the Baptist landscape, but few are dedicated to equipping, educating and motivating churches in personal evangelism like Empower. This conference is the best place to start a renewal of our love of evangelism. (See more on the conference on pages 8-9).

It is not for a lack of methods that churches are drying up and dying. In many cases it is a lack of passion and purpose.

In addition to the conference, various tools are available. “Can We Talk” is an easy approach to share the gospel ( The 1Cross App allows you to give the Good News in a wide range of languages ( Three Circles is a little booklet that gives the message of salvation in a clear presentation ( The SBTC has gospel tracts, videos and other materials for churches (

I once heard an evangelistic pastor say there is no problem in a church that can’t be fixed by soul-winning. If you need money, win people to Jesus and teach them to tithe. If you need workers, win people to Jesus and train them. If you need to fill empty pews, win people to Jesus and you have a congregation. Soul-winning is definitely the first step in curing the ills of our sick churches.

I have no greater joy than to share the gospel and see someone come to Christ. I’m not a very good or consistent soul-winner, but occasionally I get the thrill of seeing a person place his faith in Jesus. It seems like it was easier when I was a pastor to connect with lost people on a personal level. By being soul-conscious, we can be ready to give the gospel when the opportunity arises. Sometimes we have to create the opportunity.

Coming to the Empower Conference is a great place to join with others who have a desire to impact the vast lostness of Texas and our world. Let’s ask God to break our hearts once again for those who will go to hell without Jesus. See you in Irving!

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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