HOUSTON (BP) -- Evangelizing North America -- a continent where Christianity is declining -- will undergird the "Run to the Darkness" theme of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists June 7-9 sessions in Houston.

"What we've learned all over the world doing international missions is how to contextualize the Gospel, how to communicate the Gospel effectively from one people group to the next," said Eric Ramsey, president of COSBE. "And we need to begin using those same methods here in North America...."

The meeting will kick off with a retreat on the night of Friday, June 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 at the home of David Stockwell and continue the next day at Houston's Second Baptist Church from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

"The focus of that retreat every year is to train and equip ... Southern Baptist evangelists," said Ramsey of Mountainburg, Ark. More specifically, he said this year's retreat will explore maintaining the integrity of the Gospel message while adapting new methods to reach North American culture.

The retreat's speakers will include Stockwell, a veteran Houston-based international evangelist; Ken Winter, vice president for church and partner services with the International Mission Board; and pastor Ed Young of Houston's Second Baptist Church. Bob Smith of Madison, Ala., along with Russell and Kristi Johnson of Conway, S.C., will lead the retreat's music.

COSBE will hold its Sunday morning worship service from 9 to 11:30 at the Hilton Americas Hotel in the Americas Ballroom A/B. Speakers will include Ramsey, Stockwell and Richard Hamlet of Cordova, Tenn. Musicians will include the Johnsons, Amy Stockwell of Houston and Alisha Ramsey of Mountainburg, Ark.

The COSBE gathering will conclude with a business meeting from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

All of this year's speakers have extensive experience in evangelism and church planting, Ramsey noted, voicing a hope that the meeting will encourage pastors to explore different methods in sharing about Christ.

"What we are wanting to do is try and reflect a different philosophy, not one based on methods, but one based on utilizing good principles and contextualizing those principles in sharing the Gospel," he said.

John Evans is a writer based in Houston. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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