Florida Baptists baptize more than any SBC state; Burton wins evangelism awards
Sep 9, 2010

HONOR David Burton (center), director of evangelism for the Florida Baptist Convention, was presented NAMB’s Roy Fish Excellence in Evangelism Award by Roy Fish (right), and Thomas Hammond, NAMB’s interim vice-present for evangelism. NAMB photo by John Swain
ATLANTA, Ga. (FBC)—The Florida Baptist Convention and David Burton, director of evangelism, captured two top evangelism awards given during the North American Mission Board’s summer senior leadership meeting, attended by some 500 state leaders July 25-29 in Atlanta.

The Florida Convention won the C. E. Autrey Award for “its commitment to expanding the Kingdom of God as demonstrated by the highest total number of baptisms” among all state conventions for 2009. Florida Baptists recorded 46,381 baptisms during 2009, a net increase of 4,591 or 11 percent over the state’s 41,790 baptisms in 2008. 

This is the fourth consecutive year the Convention has received the award, Burton said.

Burton was honored individually with the Roy Fish Excellence in Evangelism Award, presented for his “commitment and passion to seeing lost people saved, for consistently witnessing to others, for equipping believers to do evangelism, for building the Kingdom through partnerships, and leading by integrity.”

The inaugural award was given to Burton jointly by NAMB and the Fellowship of State Directors of Evangelism and presented personally by Fish, long-time evangelism professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and interim NAMB president.

Burton credited Florida Baptist pastors and the state convention staff for the state’s baptism accomplishments, which he said reflected “lives transformed by the Gospel.”

“I believe that pastors across the state have gradually begun to once again realize that evangelism does not just happen,” Burton said. “They must intentionally prepare their people and train them to do outreach and soulwinning.”

Throughout Florida churches are focusing on special outreach ministries, trainings, evangelistic children ministries, sports evangelism and using evangelistic meals to reach people with the Gospel, Burton said. He noted the Florida Baptist Convention staff  “has aggressively been in churches and associational gatherings teaching, preaching, motivating and exhorting all we could to get individuals into the harvest fields.”

“We are traveling across this state in training, evangelism rallies, pulpit supplies, evangelism Sunday School trainings, and with many of these ministries being intentionally preceded with prayer ministry,” Burton said. Strides have been made in youth evangelistic events and lay renewal weekends as well, he added.

However, Burton noted the precedence of evangelism permeates the work of the entire Convention staff and their work. “Evangelism is a priority of Dr. John Sullivan which is taken seriously by the entire convention staff.” Sullivan is executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention.

“It is a team effort,” he emphasized.

The Roy Fish award was gratifying personally for Florida’s evangelism director, who said he studied under Fish at Southwestern Seminary. “I took every class of his I could. He was tops in my book,” Burton said of Fish, adding they have continued to be “strong friends and co-laborers in the ministry of evangelism.” Burton said he often asks Fish to speak at conferences and events in Florida. The recipient of the Fish award was nominated by more than 40 state evangelism directors and the NAMB staff.

“To be recognized by my peers in such a wonderful way is something I will never forget,” Burton said. “Being in evangelism and loving to do so in lifestyle is a passion of mine. I do it for Jesus…not recognition.”

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