Sometimes, like when we lived in Florida, the breeze blows gently and caresses your face—and you smile. You enjoy it, but it very quickly becomes such a part of the surrounding environment that you almost forget it’s there. This wind delights your world.
Other times, the wind blows with hurricane force that nearly knocks you over. You cannot ignore it, because the force of it impacts your every step. This wind shapes your world.
For years, Southern Baptists have lived in tropical breeze world. Our approach to connecting with our culture, reaching people and doing church has been comfortable, comforting and largely successful. We have seen the Lord build thousands of churches and a significant missionary force that touches people across the US and to the ends of the earth.
The forecast has changed; the breezes for Southern Baptists doing ministry are anything but gentle. I’d encourage you to check out the following:
+ Alvin Reid wrote a few weeks ago that he felt the SBC had reached a tipping point. That our churches and our convention have reached a point from which there is no return. The other side is necessary change.
+ Ed Stetzer with Lifeway Research wrote this week about The Southern Baptist Convention: A Denomination (Continuing) in Its Decline. Looking athe most recent statistics reported from the churches, Stetzer notes,
“Unless things change, we are about to enter a time when we grow accustomed to decline and think back to the good ol’ days of growth….We are a denomination in decline, at least in our membership and definitely in our evangelism and baptisms. The most rational decision now is to acknowledge its reality so we might deal with its consequences and discover solutions for our churches….we need to face some facts: we face a culture turning its back toward us, a declining and aging membership, and young leaders who are choosing other partnerships.”
He calls this “our wake-up call” for “we have been lulled into evangelistic complacency and missional inaction. We fought a battle of the Bible and are now struggling live it out through cooperation, collaborative missions, and personal evangelism.” The crisis also has in it the seeds of opportunity that follows a principle:
“People do not change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. And, neither do denominations…So let me ask you a simple question: Are we hurting enough to make the changes we need?
+ The idea of a Great Commission Resurgence has been floating around for a year or so. It has been articulated best by Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary. Last week, Akin presented a chapel address in which he defined Axioms for A Great Commission Resurgence. The whole thing is worth careful reading, thinking and prayer. Let me share a few to whet your appetite:
– We must commit ourselves to the total and absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives. (Col. 3:16-17, 23-24)
– We must be gospel centered in all our endeavors for the glory of God. (Rom. 1:16)
– We must affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a healthy and sufficient guide for building a theological consensus for partnership in the gospel, refusing to be sidetracked by theological agendas that distract us from our Lord’s Commission. (1 Tim. 6:3-4)
– We must dedicate ourselves to a passionate pursuit of the Great Commission of the Lord Jesus across our nation and to all nations answering the call to go, disciple, baptize and teach all that the Lord commanded. (Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:5;15:20)
– We must encourage pastors to see themselves as the head of a gospel missions agency who will lead the way in calling out the called for international assignments but also equip and train all their people to see themselves as missionaries for Jesus regardless of where they live. (Eph. 4:11-16)
Akin’s conclusion is so on target:,
“We have to stop doing everything we do “for us!” We have, in many ways, become a selfish people. We must once more start doing what we do for others, beginning with Jesus. God is going to turn this world upside down. We can be a part of this if we are more passionate for His glory than our conveniences and comfort. God is going to turn this world upside down, and we can be a part of it if we humble ourselves and focus on loving each other and working with each other to seek and save the lost. Older believers need to acknowledge, “We need the energy and fresh ideas of a younger generation.” Younger believers need to realize, “We need the wisdom and experience of our parents and grandparents.” We really do need each other. Finally, we desperately need the heart of Jesus. We need the eyes of Jesus. If we can get to that, we will have what we need to move forward as a mighty Great Commission army going forth to do battle for the Captain of our Salvation and the Savior of Souls. If not, we will find ourselves on the sidelines playing silly and meaningless games while God’s mighty army moves on without us. Brothers and sisters, I have found the army I want to fight with. It’s called the church. I have found the Commander-in-Chief I want to serve. His name is Jesus. I have found the enemy I want to destroy. It is Satan, sin, death and hell. Will you join me? There is victory for the taking!