Published Aug 10, 2016
FRESNO — Evangelism is a key component of the 2016 California Mission Offering, providing tools and resources to help churches train members to effectively share the gospel with confidence.
Terry Barone, California Southern Baptist Convention communications group leader, said, “The evangelism effort is centered around the theme, ‘Let’s Go Fishing,’ based on accounts of Jesus calling His disciples to fish for people (men).”
Barone noted CMO has always been a “three-pronged approach of encouraging church members to pray for, give to and be on mission by going/sharing their faith.”
With this year’s theme, “we wanted to give pastors and church staff members an opportunity to train members on how to successfully make a simple gospel presentation, and we did that with the help of our state evangelism director, Randy McWhorter.”
Using John 3:16 as the foundation, McWhorter outlined four truths to talk about when engaging someone about a personal relationship with Christ, including being made aware of “God’s purpose, your need, God’s provision and your response.”
Barone, who leads the creative team in developing materials for the offering and prayer emphasis, said, “All the information a pastor or church leader needs to teach the congregation about making a gospel presentation has been bundled as part of this year’s bulletin insert.”
He explained the bulletin insert is a card with a “small pull-off guide attached.” The guide has a brief summary of the CMO theme, prayer requests related to the featured offering emphases and the gospel presentation as laid out by McWhorter.
“The materials were produced to make it easy for a pastor or church leader to have a special evangelism emphasis on a Sunday morning,” Barone added, “to preach a sermon about CMO and the importance of reaching people for Christ.”
McWhorter wrote a sermon that emphasizes the California Mission Offering and walks the congregation through the four-step gospel presentation. Additionally, there is a video on the CMO website — www.cal
missions.com — the pastor can use to teach members how to make the presentation.
“Both resources were designed to help pastors and church leaders encourage, train and meet the need of having an evangelistic force from their congregation prepared to share the gospel with family, friends, co-workers, fellow students and anyone they happen to meet,” Barone said.
CSBC also has developed a witnessing guide for church members, to help them when making a gospel presentation. Barone explained it is a “small, pocket-sized guide that one could carry in their pocket, wallet or purse, and contains the four steps outlined in the CMO materials. It was designed to give the Christian confidence in remembering the steps and leading someone through the presentation.”
Included as part of the witnessing guide entitled, “What is Your Purpose?” is a sample prayer to lead in making a profession of faith in Christ, and space for the presenter to leave their contact information or information about the church.
Barone said all CMO printed materials — poster, bulletin insert (including the pull-off guide) and witnessing guide — are available in four languages — Chinese, English, Korean and Spanish. Materials are free for all CSBC congregations and can be ordered at www.calmissions.com.
Noting the California Convention ranks as a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention in the number of baptisms reported annually, McWhorter said “CSBC and the SBC both reported fewer baptisms for 2015 than in 2014.”
“I believe this evangelism component is one way to further the cause of Christ in California if we are serious about reaching the lost and penetrating the darkness we find in our communities,” McWhorter asserted.
“I am excited about this evangelism opportunity for California Southern Baptist churches. With 33 million living in our state who don’t know Christ, we need an army of trained and willing disciples to tell others about Jesus.”
Barone added that though personal evangelism is a key component of this year’s CMO emphasis, evangelism is always the basis of projects supported by the prayers and gifts of members and churches for California missions.
He noted the California Mission Offering goal for 2016 is $430,000. The majority of the gifts are earmarked for church starting and evangelism efforts. If the goal is met, Barone said, those two ministries would receive 68 percent, or $292,400. The next largest item allocated is for Disaster Relief and missions discipleship ministries, which receive 15 percent, or $64,500 if the goal is met.
Another key component is association projects, totaling $40,000, or 10 percent of the offering. The remainder of the allocation is earmarked for the season of prayer and promotion, receiving 7 percent, or $30,100 if the CMO goal is reached.
Barone said in addition to printed resources, there are a number of other resources at www.calmissions.com, including a planning guide with practical suggestions for a successful CMO emphasis, videos to download for congregational viewing, mission studies for all age-groups, clip art for promotion and much more.