Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow: 'Evangelism is the most talked about and least practiced discipline'


CONYERS, Ga. — Georgia Baptist Convention President Josh Saefkow is hoping for a big turnout for a pair of evangelism conferences, the first of which begins on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Conyers.

“The evangelism conferences help us to grow, to be equipped and to be inspired,” Saefkow said. “A big part of these conferences is to be inspired to go and tell others about Jesus.”

Georgia Baptists are going into this year’s conferences with an obvious zeal for sharing the gospel. They’re reporting a 30% increase in baptisms over the past year and a more than 92% increase since 2020.

Those numbers continue to rise as more churches fill out what’s known as the Annual Church Profile, a yearly census of Southern Baptist congregations.

The evangelism conferences, among the Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s most popular events, are intended to provide resources and strategies for reaching the state’s unchurched population.

The one that begins Sunday at First Baptist Conyers runs into Monday. It will be followed by another on March 10-11 at Northside Baptist Church in Tifton.

“It’s so helpful to the churches,” Saefkow said. “Evangelism is one of the most talked about and least practiced disciplines, but, when you go to the evangelism conferences, your evangelism fires are stoked.”

Signs of spiritual revival have been popping up in communities across Georgia with huge numbers of people making commitments to Christ in evangelistic outreaches. One of the largest instances was in October when some 1,600 people responded to the gospel during a four-day crusade in the south Georgia town of Baxley. But the Index has documented a year-long series of mass salvations, some measured in dozens, others in hundreds.

The latest count of baptisms in Georgia stands at 19,738 for 2023, an increase of more than 4,600 over the previous year.

Steve Foster, an evangelism consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, said many of the state’s churches have made evangelism a renewed priority, and they see the evangelism conferences as the places to find workable strategies for reaching people who don’t attend church.

The conferences, Foster said, provide healthy doses of both inspiration and information to help congregations reach their communities.

The Mission Board has pulled together a strong lineup of preachers for this year’s evangelism conferences.

Keynote speakers from Georgia and beyond will be on the main platforms while a litany of others will lead smaller breakout sessions on a broad range of evangelism strategies.

Registration for the conferences remain open.

At First Baptist Conyers, Robert Smith, a professor at the Beeson Divinity School at Alabama’s Samford University, will be a keynote speaker, as will Danny Forshee, lead pastor at Great Hills Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; W. Thomas Hammond Jr., executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, H.B. Charles, pastor at Shiloah Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; and Mark Hearn, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Duluth.

At Northside Baptist, Hammond and Charles will be keynote speakers along with Herb Reavis, senior pastor at North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Florida and Matt Queen, evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Mission Board is promoting this year’s evangelism conferences as “life changing.” The theme for the conferences is “Called to Witness.”