By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
COVINGTON, La. (LBM) – Lee Strobel, an atheist-turned-Christ follower who authored the best-selling book “The Case for Christ,” will headline the 2022 Louisiana Baptist Evangelism Conference, Jan. 24-25, at First Baptist Church, Covington.
Strobel, whose message was cut short at the 2019 ECON at FBC Covington because of an area-wide power outage, said the conference is a prime way to train Louisiana Baptists to reach their community, state, nation and world for Christ.
“When I was at Billy Graham’s funeral, the big question was, ‘Who’s the next Billy Graham,’” Strobel told the Baptist Message. “I don’t think it’s just one person — I believe it’s millions of contagious Christians who are equipped, motivated, and deployed to share the Good News far and wide. That’s why this conference is so important. How can churches encourage and train their congregations to be stronger salt and brighter light in our increasingly skeptical culture? This conference is a strategic opportunity to offer ideas and proven approaches.”
Strobel originally went on a search to disprove Christianity but instead found a relationship with Jesus on Nov. 8, 1981. He said apologetics is an important evangelistic approach Christ followers can use.
“Evangelism is even more important today, but so is apologetics, or offering reasons for why we believe what we believe,” he continued. “My friend J. Warner Wallace, an atheist detective who came to Christ after his investigation of the Gospels, went so far as to say, ‘evangelism in the 21st Century is spelled apologetics.’ I think he’s on the right track. We need to help people know why we believe that Jesus is the unique Son of God. That’s going to be vitally important as we face a nation and world that are skeptical and sometimes even hostile toward our faith.”
The first two sessions on Jan. 24 will feature Steve Beckham, pastor at First Community Antioch Baptist Church, Lutcher, and mission strategist for Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge; Shane Pruitt, national NextGen evangelism director for the North American Mission Board; Willie McLaurin, vice president for Great Commission relations and mobilization for the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, and Richard Ross, professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The final day of ECON will feature Michael Wood, pastor at First Baptist Church, West Monroe; David Evans, pastor at Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield, Tennessee; and Strobel.
“We are thrilled to be back in Southeast Louisiana,” Louisiana Baptist Evangelism and Church Growth Director Keith Manuel said. “It is a perfect time to encourage evangelism, especially with all the tremendous work our churches continue to do since the hurricane. We are praying that the Lord will use this event to refresh and reinvigorate our wonderful congregations and pastors from all parts of the state after this long season of ministry and rebuilding.”