FAITH ministries: Five Years of Blessed Growth

Jan 11, 2003 06:43 PM EST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Five years after the FAITH national training began, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention will sponsor a National FAITH Institute from Jan. 27-31 at First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach Fla, where FAITH was born.

First Baptist pastor Bobby Welch and then-FBC staff member Doug Williams began developing what is now known as the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy at First Baptist in 1985 to help bolster the church's Sunday School enrollment and reconnect Sunday School and evangelism. In 1998, LifeWay partnered with the church in developing materials and launching a national training plan.

"FAITH is far broader than just evangelism," Welch said. "It is a strategy and process wherein a local church can crystallize the ministry task."

Comparing Faith strategy to a box holding many items, he suggested that the evangelistic ministry holds the varied components of evangelism, assimilation, discipleship and ministry.

"The heart of the FAITH Sunday School evangelism strategy is its connection with a church's Sunday School and the development of Great Commission Christians," said Gene Mims, vice president of LifeWay's church resources division.

FAITH team members train in groups of three to save people by the love of Christ. New believers are enrolled in Sunday School and are invited to attend church with the team. FAITH teams also make visits to minister to their members at Sunday School.

Since 1998, there have been staggering development in the FAITH strategy. Within the five years, 28,868 people were trained in 6,851 churches. 351 clinics were completed, and they plan for 78 more completions within the next year.

At the national institute in Daytona Beach, participants will be offered three different tracks to choose from, including one in Spanish.

New FAITH trainees will be offered the FAITH basic track, qualifying them to begin FAITH training in their churches. FAITH basic track participants will have opportunities to interact with churches currently using FAITH. Senior pastors must attend this track if they have not previously attended a FAITH training clinic.

The FAITH Veteran's Track is for those who have attended a FAITH training clinic or have completed their first semester of FAITH. It offers many tiers of training, including skill-development workshops to help FAITH Veteran's improve their effectiveness in the FAITH strategy, intentional efforts to build a national network of FAITH practitioners, testimonies of success experienced through FAITH, messages pointing FAITH leaders to an expanded mission through FAITH and Discussion times for sharing ideas and strategies with other FAITH churches. Training in FAITH is a prerequisite for all participants in the Veteran's Track.

The Spanish "Por Fe" track will be running simultaneously with the FAITH basic and FAITH Veteran's tracks. This track will include complete training in the Por Fe materials.

Three other national FAITH institutes will be held this year: First Baptist Church, Jonesboro, Ga., May 19-22; First Baptist Church, Carrollton, Texas, Aug. 4-7; and Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, Calif., Sept. 22-25.

Warren Haynes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Ore., who attended a FAITH institute last year at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., said, "Often when I attend conferences, I feel I am making an investment in myself and in my church. When I left the FAITH institute, I felt like Immanuel Baptist Church, LifeWay Christian Resources and the SBC had made an investment in me. I can honestly say this is the best conference I have ever attended."

By Pauline J.