At last week’s meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Steve Gaines, who is president of the convention, appointed a task force to study how Southern Baptists can be more effective in personal evangelism. Among the appointees is Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“When we are at our best as Southern Baptists, [evangelism] is what we're known for.” said Greenway, who is also William Walker Brookes Associate Professor of Evangelism and Apologetics at the seminary, "We want to do everything we can to help motivate and mobilize Southern Baptists to do personal evangelism, because at the end of the day, that manifests our Great Commission obedience."
But Southern Baptists do not appear in recent years to be at their best. And the task force represents a direct response to declining numbers of conversions in Southern Baptist Churches. In initial reporting about the group, Baptist Press notes a 2015 report from the North American Mission Board showing that the SBC’s reported 310,000 baptisms in 2013 are the lowest number since 1948.
“It seems like things have happened where we are not as known [for our evangelistic efforts] as we should be,” Greenway said. “What can we do to help pastors, local churches, and our Convention as a whole reverse these trends?"
The formation of an evangelism task force underscores Gaines’s desire to see Southern Baptists and their churches become more effective in soul winning. That effort, he said, had to include Greenway.
"For almost twenty years, our Convention has been declining in baptisms, which is the key biblical metric regarding people who’ve been converted to Christ," said Gaines, who is also senior pastor of the historic Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and earlier this year became Southern Seminary’s inaugural Herschel H. Hobbs Visiting Professor of Christian Preaching. "I selected Adam Greenway, along with other professors of evangelism and preaching from other SBC seminaries, because these men are teaching the next generation to win souls to Christ through personal evangelism and through extending gospel invitations at the conclusion of every sermon — urging the listeners to repent of their sin and believe in Christ alone for salvation. I believe this task force will help all Southern Baptists become more intentional in winning people to Christ personally and also from the pulpit."
The president of Southern Seminary, R. Albert Mohler Jr., echoed Gaines’s enthusiasm about Greenway.
“Adam Greenway is the kind of leader, servant, evangelist, preacher, and teacher who represents Southern Baptists at our best,” he said. “I am really proud that he will be serving on this new task force, and I thank SBC President Steve Gaines for his leadership in calling Southern Baptists to a new level of faithfulness in evangelism.
“Adam will serve well, and all Southern Baptists should be praying for this task force.”
Greenway said he wants to see a tangible strategy for Southern Baptists to grow their evangelistic efforts.
“If the question were asked, 'What is our national strategy for evangelization as Southern Baptists?,” what would be our response?” Greenway said. “I think we need to make sure we have a credible answer."
Greenway said it’s too early to know exactly what the findings of the task force will be. But he is hopeful about the end result:
"My hope would be that the Spirit of God would move upon us in such a way to where we could be a resource and an encouragement to Southern Baptists to do what we were formed to do—to engage people with the Gospel of grace" he said.
Greenway is no stranger to denominational leadership. This year, he served as vice chairman on the Committee on Nominations, the body that nominates trustees for the convention entities.
“It's an incredible task to be responsible for prayerfully discerning who the Lord may be raising up to serve as trustees of our entities, knowing that's how Southern Baptists exercise their stewardship over the entities — through the election of trustees in the governance process," he said.
In addition, for the past two years, Greenway served at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting as one of three assistant parliamentarians, working specifically with the Committee on Order of Business. Similarly, since 2010, Greenway has been the parliamentarian of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. He also served as KBC president in 2011-12.