The evangelism task force appointed at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting this June convened for the first time on the campus of Southwestern Seminary, August 14-15. Chaired by Southwestern President Paige Patterson, the task force is charged with determining how Southern Baptists might reap a greater harvest through personal evangelism and evangelistic preaching.

“I cannot remember a meeting that encouraged my heart as much as this one,” Patterson said at the meeting’s conclusion. “We had a large portion of the task force who were able to attend, and they seriously and humbly pursued the convention-assigned task.

“Fully one-fourth of our time was spent on our faces before God asking for His guidance and for an outpouring of His blessings upon our churches and institutions. This task force is under no illusion that we have the ability to speak wisely to our convention. We know well that any contribution we make will have to be the wisdom of God.”

Those in attendance included SBC President Steve Gaines; Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Jim Richards; president of Gateway Seminary Jeff Iorg; pastors Jordan Easley, Nick Floyd, Noe Garcia, James Merritt, Doug Munton, and Jimmy Scroggins; Midwestern Seminary professor Robert Matz; Southeastern Seminary professor Jim Shaddix; Southern Seminary professor Adam Greenway; and Southwestern Seminary professors David Allen and Matt Queen.

Patterson tasked every attendee with giving a presentation on a given topic related to evangelism, including how to preach evangelistically, ways to make baptism meaningful, and reviving an old church with evangelism. Gaines opened the two-day meeting, preaching from Acts 8 on his vision for the task force.

“We are grateful to God for the prayers of so many of God’s people,” Patterson says. “The North American Mission Board provided our meals. Thank you, Kevin Ezell. President Gaines provided leadership with his usual prophetic insights, and every member of the task force made a memorable contribution.”

Patterson says he has seldom been more proud to be a Southern Baptist. “The youngest professors and pastors on the committee provided many of the lasting insights and demonstrated the most mature and spiritual thinking that I have heard,” he says.

With wisdom from the Lord sought and important foundations laid, the task force will use its next meeting to begin to formulate recommendations to the SBC. “We sincerely hope these will harness the energies of our churches for an assault on the kingdom of Satan and guide us in the witness of Southern Baptists to a fallen world,” Patterson says.