January 17, 2013
FORT LAUDERDALE—Florida Baptist churches stirred baptismal waters 31,807 times in 2011, more than any other state in the Southern Baptist Convention.
In November, the North American Mission Board honored the Florida Baptist Convention with the “Excellence in Evangelism Award,” for its “commitment to expanding the kingdom of God” as demonstrated by the highest total number of baptisms in 2011.
The award was presented during the 2012 National Winter Meeting of SBC evangelism directors held Nov. 27 in Fort Lauderdale.
It was the sixth consecutive time Florida received the accolade.
“This award is due to the strong leadership from Dr. John Sullivan and the continued focused work and service by the staff of the Florida Baptist Convention,” said David Burton, lead strategist of the Convention’s evangelism group, who was presented the award. Sullivan serves as executive director-treasurer.
Burton also credited Florida Baptist pastors who were “the key to reaching and winning the lost to Christ. Our pastors hear me say ‘intentional evangelism’ until I bet they get tired of it. But that is the key, we must be intentional,” he said.
“Winning people is one thing, getting new converts into the baptistry is another challenge. Florida Baptists win thousands more to Christ no doubt but these 49,438--including the 17,631 people baptized by our churches in Haiti--are the ones won, baptized and placed into a discipling process by our local churches.”
Because Florida Baptists support and supervise the work of Baptist in Haiti, through the Confraternite Missionnaire Baptiste d’Haiti (CMBH), the baptisms conducted by churches are counted in Convention’s grand totals each year. In 2011, CMBH churches baptized 17,631 persons.
Burton also credited the “Love Your Neighbor, Share Christ” evangelism strategy that has “assisted in producing a much needed fresh awareness of soulwinning and training disciples in our churches. The total church approach is catching on,” he said.
In other categories, Florida Baptists baptized an average of 13 persons per church, making it the national leader, ahead of Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) with 8.5 per church and Georgia Baptist Convention with 8.6 per church.
Also Florida churches baptize one person for every 35 church members, with the national average at one for every 44 members. The next closest is Baptist General Convention of Texas, with 1 person baptized for every 61 members; and Georgia with one person for every 49 members.
Burton added, “We have fewer churches and members than these two states, yet see more people baptized. This indicates we train, teach, motivate and develop intentional strategies in Florida.”