ROSWELL (BNM) - A group composed mostly of New Mexico pastors listened as Matt Queen spoke about recovering ministry and about re-engaging evangelism as COVID restrictions ease. Queen serves as associate dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth. Queen led two morning sessions of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s Pastor’s and Layman’s Conference, Oct. 26. Calvary Baptist Church, Roswell hosted the event as an activity of the BCNM’s Annual Meeting of messengers from its participating churches.
Approximately 80 pastors and laymen attended the conference at the same location as the annual WMU Missions Celebration. Essentially, the two events offer a men’s option and a women’s option at the same location on the morning before the Annual Meeting officially begins. Although, neither event is strictly limited to only men or women. The WMU celebration drew around 90 people, according to BNM counts.
The Pastor’s and Layman’s Conference’s first session focused on reengaging and adapting ministry as churches emerge from COVID-related closures and restrictions. Session two focused specifically on the issue of reengaging church members in direct evangelism, since person-to-person interaction is happening more and more. The third session gathered pastors and laymen around tables in groups for prayer. Queen spoke twice during the meeting’s sessions.
Setting the moment for talking about recovering ministry after COVID, Queen quoted Scripture, “Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). He addressed how the pandemic had “unmasked” a latent selfishness in culture, but also in churches. “Everyone has be in it for themselves,” he said, describing the problem. Using humor he touched on two issues he said had become divisive in churches: masking and vaccines. He recommended churches shift conversations to adapting and carrying on ministry in a that is world emerging from COVID restrictions.
Queen highlighted the need for keeping track of people, even those who have not returned after COVID-mandated church closures. “Take the first step,” he said, encouraging churches not to sit and wait for attendees and members to come back. “Go to them,” “Go knock on their doors,” he said. He also discussed interactively with those in attendance how they can approach decisions about live broadcasts on social media, deacon ministry, staffing and church budgeting. He urged pastors to “do a re-evaluation of church, ministry and your work.” Then, he said, share what you learn with the church.
Citing the ongoing decline of baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention, Queen said, “We have a problem, and it is an evangelistic problem.” As he spoke, he walked through his definition of evangelism. It says, “Evangelism is a Spirit-empowered activity of sharing an intentional and verbal witness to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that calls for repentance and a personal response.” Similar to his earlier application of a re-evaluation, he urged pastors to calculate and assess their church’s five-year baptism to membership ratio. Then, he said, share the trends with the church.
Queen said churches need to set, promote and measure their evangelistic expectations. He also suggested that churches pray for lost people’s salvation by name and to consistently provide evangelistic training.
During the meeting, led by its president, Phillip Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, Portales, those in attendance elected David Brittain, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Farmington, as the grouop’s new president for the 2022 meeting. The president plans and presides over the annual gathering of laymen and pastors.