ALPHARETTA, Ga. – JJ Washington’s transition to the national evangelism team at the North American Mission Board (NAMB) on July 18 is like the “Acts 1:8 principle playing out in my own life,” Washington said.
“My primary inspiration for considering this move is the opportunity to make a national impact for evangelism,” said Washington. “I did this as a local pastor, then I covered a region, then I went on to impact the state level at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.”
Washington is NAMB’s new national director of personal evangelism as part of a team that is now led by senior executive director of evangelism and leadership, Tim Dowdy.
“Not only does JJ bring experience as a pastor leading in the local church but he has worked in Georgia as the state director of evangelism,” Dowdy said. “So, he knows how to help support and aid local churches in their efforts to take the Gospel to their communities.”
NAMB president Kevin Ezell announced Dowdy’s transition to leading the evangelism team during the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. Dowdy served as lead pastor of Eagles Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., for 30 years and averaged 132 baptisms a year.
“Our mission to serve and equip pastors and churches with evangelism resources will continue as our urgent focus,” Ezell said. “Tim Dowdy is a great leader who is passionate about sharing Christ. With Tim leading strategy, vision and day-to-day ministry, we also will be utilizing several leading pastors who will assist us in promoting evangelism to our churches and training Southern Baptists in evangelism.”
One key aspect of that strategy is the role Washington will play.
“Our goal is to help our family of churches share the Gospel everywhere with everyone,” Dowdy said. “JJ brings the experience and commitment to personal evangelism to help our churches accomplish this mission.”
Over the last several years, Southern Baptists have seen a steady decline in baptisms year over year as more people across the United States, especially younger people, increasingly describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated.
“The vision is to take the gospel to North America. That’s the mission. That’s what we’re trying to achieve,” said Washington. “I’ve been praying specifically about a strategy to try and achieve that goal. To do it, it’s going to take all Southern Baptists. That includes the local church, the association, the state conventions. All of us have the same goal of helping our churches in the area of evangelism.”
In his previous role as a state director of evangelism (SDOE), Washington communicated and developed relationships with Southern Baptist leaders in similar roles across the nation as they collaborated on best practices for serving churches.
Larry Anderson, director of healthy churches and evangelism for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, currently serves as president of the fellowship of SDOEs.
“JJ’s personality is contagious; he lights up a room with his joy and love for the Lord,” Anderson said. “I’m excited and proud that NAMB has brought him on board to serve in evangelism as his passion to reach the lost is unparalleled.”
In his role, Washington hopes to help NAMB’s evangelism team encourage and equip local churches in their efforts to share the gospel in their communities. The goal, Washington said, will be to go beyond offering resources and inspiration.
“You can inspire your troops, but if you’ve not prepared them, they won’t know what to do,” Washington said. “We’ve got to find a way to equip our folks about the process, not just give them resources. We need to help them understand how to move into the conversation to then use the resource.”
Comparing evangelism to an investment portfolio, Washington described a local church’s need to diversify its evangelism “portfolio” through service, one-on-one and group-based approaches.
“It sounds cliché, and we probably hear it a lot, but we need to keep the main thing the main thing, focusing on how we can reach our neighbors and the nations with the gospel,” said Washington. “That’s what we’re all about. Keep the main thing the main thing, and let’s get it done.”
Published July 15, 2022