North Carolina baptisms surge 20% in 2009
    July 12 2010 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    Baptisms in Southern Baptist churches increased two percent in 2009 after four years of decline. Among North Carolina Baptist churches, baptisms leaped 20 percent to 26,584 and surpassed 26,000 for the first time in seven years.

    Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention executive leader for evangelization since July 2006, credits the increase to God’s moving people toward the harvest.

    As the staff member who keeps closest tabs on evidence of North Carolina Baptists evangelizing and discipling, McCutcheon says the increase is due to “the blessing of our God upon His people evidenced by a heightened awareness and concern by pastors, churches and associational missionaries for those in our state who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    “Pastors are praying toward the Kingdom,” said McCutcheon, 60. “They are praying for the lost. They have a heart for the Great Commission, and are leading their churches to be the same.

    BR photo by Norman Jameson

    Don McCutcheon, Baptist State Convention executive leader for evangelization, talks about the increase in baptisms in North Carolina.

    “People are becoming aware of the great harvest God is bringing to us. There are people all over the world coming to North Carolina to study in our institutions and also who choose to live here. And we have a great opportunity to witness and share and help them come to know Christ.”

    McCutcheon, who held a similar position with Florida Baptists, also credits the “driving vision” of BSC Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr., with elevating evangelism in the consciousness of North Carolina churches.

    Baptisms matter in an evaluation of evangelical effectiveness, he said, because they indicate obedience.

    “Baptism is the first opportunity after conversion for a new believer to be obedient to the Lordship of Christ,” McCutcheon said. “They also are an indicator that churches are truly about the Great Commission.”

    McCutcheon called baptisms “the only quantifiable parameter in the Great Commission.”

    McCutcheon does not separate evangelism and disciple making, but says they are two sides of the same coin and “one cannot exist without the other.”

    “Making disciples is the most joyful hard work in the Christian life,” he said, expressing regret at the difficulty of getting modern Christians to share their faith. “You can actually get Christians to tithe before you can get them to go witness.”

    As fervently as he’s worked and prayed to help North Carolina churches turn their baptisms upward, McCutcheon admits he did not expect the change in direction to “come this quickly.”  
    The numbers
    In 2009 those churches that reported their statistics on the ACP noted 26,584 baptisms. That number includes the 1,932 baptized by Elevation Church in Mathews, and the 1,519 churches that reported no baptisms at all. Eighteen churches reported 100 or more baptisms, and 44 churches reported 50-99. Two hundred sixty-two reported one baptism. McCutcheon said 1,242 churches reported 1-5 baptisms and 2,761 reported 0-5 baptisms. On average, North Carolina Baptist churches baptized six persons each.  

    IECS Strategy
    Beyond simply tracking what North Carolina Baptist churches are doing evangelistically, McCutcheon is actively trying to infect them with an evangelism virus.  Through his own research and experience, and that of others, he has developed the Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy (IECS) and has been leading churches in that system for several years.

    McCutcheon defines IECS as “an attempt to assist pastors and churches in their own context and personalities to obey the Great Commission and faithfully evangelize their communities in a way that is effective for them.”

    During three 8-hour days of instruction, participants basically learn to find the evangelistic possibilities in every aspect of their church’s life. It incorporates five components from Acts 2:41-47 that are the anchors for teaching: evangelistic leadership, evangelistic prayer, event evangelism, assimilation and personal evangelism.

    “If evangelism is not in the pastor’s heart, it won’t go,” McCutcheon said.

    His assimilation emphasis often surprises people, he said. But attention to assimilating can close the revolving door and lead to stronger discipleship.

    Event evangelism includes weekly worship. “You don’t have to change what you’re doing, just change the priority of evangelization,” McCutcheon said. “If you’re worshiping God and a person doesn’t know God, you’re having a wonderful experience but leaving them out. We use words they don’t understand. We use forms they’re completely unaccustomed to. Make your worship understandable and inviting.”

    Like any good preacher, McCutcheon has an outline featuring “P” words for teaching evangelism. He said you need passion, and if you don’t have it, pray for it, asking God to help you love the world as He does.

    Prepare by learning scripture and praying. Participate in witnessing and while practice doesn’t make perfect, it “makes permanent,” he said. Persevere and praise God for whatever He does.

    Because some people are discouraged from witnessing if their experience doesn’t result in someone praying to receive Christ, McCutcheon loves the phrase he learned from retired Florida pastor Bobby Welch, to “Teach your people to fall in love with fishing, not just in catching fish.”

    For churches that don’t like “cold calling” on prospects, McCutcheon advises that “ministry in an area opens doors like you wouldn’t believe.” One of the blessings of disaster relief ministry is how it opens doors for evangelism among those who have been served.  

    Difficult days
    Just six months after McCutcheon came to North Carolina, his wife Kathy was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. No sooner was that conquered than cancer was discovered. While these have been some of his most difficult personal years, they have been among the most fruitful in terms of ministry, he said.

    He and Kathy treat each day as a gift and “live in the present” he said. He has cancelled virtually all outside engagements, and Marty Dupree will lead the IECS training the rest of the year.

    The first IECS training in Spanish was conducted this year, with two scheduled in Vietnamese. As equippers are trained, IECS will be offered in local associations by request, and eventually for an individual church.  

    IECS training
    IECS training will be offered at the following times and places: Sign up for any at or call (800) 395-5102, ext. 5557.  

    August 31-Sept. 2
    Carolina Association
    Ebenezer Baptist Church
    Hendersonville, NC  

    September 21-23
    New River Association
    New River Baptist Church
    Jacksonville, NC  

    October 5-7
    Three Forks Association
    Mount Vernon Baptist Church
    Boone, NC  

    October 26-28
    South Yadkin Association
    First Baptist Church
    Mooresville, NC

    Related stories
    Baptisms rise when strategies implemented
    Research reveals value of event evangelism
    7/12/2010 9:37:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 1 comments

Brent Hobbs
The 20% jump is great news. Let's work hard in sharing the gospel even more to do our part in making sure it's a new trend.
7/13/2010 3:00:37 PM

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