NAMB is calling the initiative "Love Loud."
NAMB President Kevin Ezell noted: "Our Send North America strategy is to penetrate lostness through church planting. That includes planting churches in North America's inner cities and mobilizing churches and communities to show people God's love and point them to a relationship with Christ. We will be intentional in connecting people to new or existing Southern Baptist churches."
NAMB's vice president for evangelism and leadership development, Larry Wynn, welcomed the fellow native Georgian to his team.
"Al brings high energy and real passion for taking the Gospel to the world," Wynn said. "He is a leader in SBC life and a practitioner of loving people to faith in Christ."
Gilbert will give direction to the new Love Loud team at NAMB beginning in September after serving the last nine years as Calvary's senior pastor. Gilbert, who also serves on the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, said he is excited and humbled by the opportunity.
"I have a passion for following God's heart and helping God's people follow Him in missional living," Gilbert said. "I derive great joy in helping God's people discover God's passion."
In his first year at Calvary, Gilbert led the church to have an even greater impact in Winston-Salem. "Basically, I asked them to help us discover how a church with a great missions heart that was involved in missions internationally could have a local impact."
After a year of study and preparation, Calvary held Love Winston-Salem, a one-week mission trip to their own city.
"It solidified my passion to ignite people to the reality of God's heart for the nations with God's heart for our neglected neighbors," Gilbert said.
Wynn said it was that intentional approach to ministry evangelism that convinced him and Ezell that Gilbert was the obvious choice to give direction to Love Loud.
"When I came to NAMB, Kevin and I started talking about expanding ministry evangelism," Wynn said. "Southern Baptists are good at building bridges, but we don't always bring the Gospel across the bridge. We want to make sure we are offering hope with the help.
"Meeting people's needs in life events like crisis medical situations, crisis pregnancy or adoption opens the door, but when we offer help in those situations we also need to share hope in Christ. We need to make sure we do both," Wynn said.
Love Loud will combine existing ministry evangelism while also adding new evangelism efforts through NAMB. The effort will include volunteer opportunities for medical and dental professionals, crisis pregnancy, hunger and Campers On Mission, among others. Love Loud also will embrace new work including adoption and foster care ministries as well as helping inner-city schools. Love Loud will primarily utilize volunteers mobilized from existing and newly-planted SBC churches.
Additional initiatives are only in the planning stages at this point, Wynn said.
"This is certainly not an exhaustive list," Wynn said. "For instance, you may see elements of Love Loud as part of Crossover efforts, particularly in a city like New Orleans that still has so many needs. You will also see elements of Love Loud in our church planting efforts. Love Loud will help church plants and existing churches connect with their cities. It would be fair to say that Love Loud is an expansion of ministry evangelism. We will look to do more than we have ever done in helping churches love people to Jesus."
Gilbert spent five years as special assistant to the president at the International Mission Board. Prior to joining IMB, he pastored Liberty Baptist Church in Hampton, Va., from 1988-97 and Knollwood Baptist Church in Burke, Va., from 1982-88 and served on church staffs in Texas and Georgia.
A graduate of Georgia College and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Gilbert is in his second term on the SBC Executive Committee. He delivered the convention sermon at the 2008 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis and served on the 2009 SBC Resolutions Committee.
Gilbert and his wife of 38 years, Karen, known as K.K., have four children and 11 grandchildren.
Joe Conway is a writer for the North American Mission Board.
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