SBTC’s Shane Pruitt to head next generation evangelism at NAMB
October 17th, 2019 / By: Texan Staff / comments
Shane Pruitt, evangelism director for the SBTC, will transition Nov. 1 to the North American Mission Board as its National Next Generation Evangelism Director. Pruitt has served in his current role at the SBTC for the past two years, along with two years prior as director of missions and church planting.
Pruitt’s role at NAMB is newly created, marking an intentional focus on evangelism for the newest generations. “We want a voice at NAMB that’s communicating to Generation Z, Millennials,” Pruitt said. “Because we want to be in front of the curve, the focus would be starting with Gen Z and working up, instead of working down.”
Part of the new position will be to identify what’s needed to help churches to engage the next generation. “Where’s the need?” is one question Pruitt is asking, because “nationally a lot of times you don’t really know what you need until you get into it, because contexts are different.”
“To my knowledge no one is reaching more students with the gospel in North America than Shane Pruitt,” said Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership at NAMB. “As baptisms among students continue to drop among Southern Baptists, this is a critical time for the future of the church and the future of our denomination. Shane will bring the urgency, enthusiasm and laser focus on evangelism that we need right now.”
“I’ll be working right under Johnny Hunt’s leadership,” Pruitt said, “and I’m so excited about that because I’ve respected the ministry of Kevin Ezell and Johnny Hunt so much, so it’s really surreal for me to get to serve with those guys and under their leadership.”
As he has done while at the SBTC, Pruitt plans to continue engaging the next generation personally even as he equips churches to do so. “I’m really an evangelist at heart,” he said. “I’ve loved being in this role as evangelism director, cause that’s really my heart. The Lord has allowed me to be around a lot of the next generation, so I feel like the Lord has revealed some things to me about effective ways to preach the gospel to that generation. So I want to continue to do that but also help churches do that.”
Referencing a recent Wall Street Journal article that showed just 30 percent of Generation Z thinks religion is very important to them—the lowest such number for any American generation ever—yet 80 percent say that living a self-fulfilled life is very important to them. “I think that’s the key of communicating with Gen Z: you want to live a self-fulfilled life, but the only way to live a fulfilled life is by believing in someone outside of yourself.” Pruitt points out that, “Another thing we see in younger generations is some of the cultural Christianity is gone by the wayside. They don’t know the Bible; they didn’t go to Vacation Bible School. I think where sometimes maybe that’s fearful for us, that the culture doesn’t feel Christian anymore, I think it’s a great opportunity for evangelism.”
SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards called Pruitt “one of the most gifted communicators in Southern Baptist life,” able to “capture the imagination of young and old alike. While we at the SBTC will miss his leadership, we bid him godspeed as he takes on a national role with NAMB.”
“I love our churches. I love our pastors,” Pruitt said. “It’s just been such a privilege to be able to serve our churches and I look forward to continuing to do that. That’s what’s great about this role—I get to serve all the state conventions across the nation. So I look forward to still continuing to serve Dr. Richards, this team, the SBTC, the churches, the pastors—just in a different role.”
Pruitt said of his transition to NAMB, “I’m very excited but also very humbled too. I think the gravity of the call is sobering. I don’t take that lightly at all. But I also feel that way in this role [at the SBTC]. I feel extremely inadequate but my God is faithful and I know that he is more than adequate so my trust is in him. It’s way bigger than me, but it’s not bigger than our God.”
Pruitt’s resignation is effective Nov. 1, though he will serve as a consultant through the 2020 Empower Evangelism Conference. Richard Taylor, evangelism associate, will serve as interim evangelism director.