Southern Baptists and a Great Commission Resurgence?

Beyond Calvinism

This post will refer to cleaning our house beyond Calvinism though it stems from talks from Calvinism. Last week I attended the Southern Baptist Building Bridges Conference and Dr. Danny Akin in his presentation said we need a Great Commission Resurgence. Tim Rogers who I had the pleasure of meeting at the conference has a good summary of Dr. Akin’s position.

I think Denny Burk summarized the main point very well and we we should all take heed.

If you care at all about the future of Southern Baptist cooperation, you must not miss this message. It was a stirring, prophetic word and, I hope, a rallying cry for Baptists to come together for the cause of missions around the world. I pray that Akin’s tribe will increase within the SBC-for the glory of Christ and for the nations.

I certainly think if we took Danny Akin’s message and applied it across the SBC we’d be all the better as a Convention as a whole. However, I have a few concerns and wonder how many local churches we could really get on board. We have position I like to call autonomous conformity. We’re autonomous on the local level, but one step above we pass resolutions and have barriers to ministry entry unless we conform. There seems to be a gap between what certain national agencies and figure heads believe should be in place across the Convention vs. what is actually in place.

I have a few questions to kick around.

Can’t we just unite around the BF&M 2000?

I think we can, but will we? There is something about “theology” that turns people off and studying a confession may not excite many. I guess it doesn’t seem practical. We did study it in Sunday School though neither me nor my friends in SB churches have never really had the confession talked about in their churches. I’m just speaking from experience not no broad brush. I’m sure there are more examples that others can give. I think if we could get the BF&M emphasized and taught other biblical convictions would follow.

How many really want change?

Of course, I can only take a guess. At the Building Bridges Conference there were approximately 550 attendees of whom, I would guess after a hand raise, about half were laymen. So out of 16 million 6 million in the SBC we had about 275 clergy and 275 laymen, give or take. Friends, that’s a small number, but it’s reflective of how many turn out at the national Convention every year, as I understand it. Is the correct answer: a minority?

How can change be implemented?

Given autonomy of the local church and the above numbers it’s tough to say. Like many changes the local level is the place to start. It’s possible to get a national message out and try to get people on board, but is it probable? Again, given the national attendance numbers this would be a tough route. Not to mention Tom Ascol’s proposed resolution Integrity in Church Membership has not passed the last two years. And had I not been active online with blogs and newspapers I would not have known much about what happened nationally.

Won’t a Great Commission Resurgence be spurred by the Great Commission itself?

I certainly hope this would be the case. However, local churches are busy dealing with their own issues which may or may not include the ones in question. I don’t know how Great Commission minded most people are in their personal life. This may be the wrong rhetorical question and I hope it is, but outside of the CP and Lottie Moon how many are really encouraged to take a personal interest in the GC? My experience has been that sharing the Gospel has been reduced to simply inviting someone to church. I’m not saying don’t invite someone to church, although Scripture doesn’t seem to use this method. Let me say it like this: how much more aware of ourselves as Christians would we be if we were constantly thinking when a good opportunity would be to share the Gospel?

Concluding suggestions

Tie all of these suggestions as strongly to the Bible as you can. If you’re a pastor, implement a class on these issues starting with the BF&M graduating to the Great Commission. It would be even better to start from the pulpit. A layman can go to his pastor(s) and ask for a class to be started or to lead one if in the right position. Go to your local and/or state associations and see if there is any type of program such as this to begin getting the message out. If the Florida Baptist Convention can get together and send out a sermon series against Calvinism and other topics I don’t see why we can’t put a message like Danny Akin’s and Tom Ascol’s out.

Start a local cooperative program. In other words, implement a local outreach without asking for church resources where other members can contribute needed items. Then, hopefully, they will be encouraged to get involved. From here the need for a discipleship class of some sort naturally flows.

If there is an interest nationally, as the convention at large gears up for it’s annual meeting see if you can start reporting on the issues. As the one doing this you can stress the Great Commission and maybe spur a grassroots movement from your home state. See about getting your state paper involved.

Dare I say it, but I can see this type of Biblical theology which emphasizes coming together for the Great Commission starting with integrity in church membership. A strong and sound theology is most likely initially going to make local bodies shrink. Striving for a regenerate church membership will give us a true count of who is who. It makes it much easier to work together. We need to grow qualitatively not quantitatively.

Finally, none of this will happen. None! Unless Christ and Christ crucified is preached. If this is not so then none of the above matters. We must seek Him everyday and even preach ourselves the Gospel. How?

Charles Spurgeon had a pretty good insight back in 1863: Preaching Christ Crucified.

In grace for what it’s worth,

Mark

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tagged as , , in Church Issues,Culture,Southern Baptist,theology

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thomas Twitchell December 5, 2007 at 4:54 pm

“Let me say it like this: how much more aware of ourselves as Christians would we be if we were constantly thinking when a good opportunity would be to share the Gospel?”

For the nearly twenty years I have been in the SBC, this is what was taught. And, it never worked. I am convinced that the leadership has copped out of their responsibility to “do the work of an evangelist,” and simply laid it over on the congregation to be about the Great Commission. Now before you blow a gasket, I do believe that it is everyones responsibility to support the work of the ministry. But, the work of the ministry, is given, not to the congregation but to its ministers. The loss of particularity in calling, I believe has done the greatest harm to the GC and to evangelism, which I see as not necessarily the same thing.

2 johnMark December 5, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Thomas,

So we don’t misunderstand each other. I am saying that people need to live cross centered lives. They should take the Gospel with them and share it if they can. This doesn’t excuse the evangelist.

An evangelist should evangelize and their preaching should be cross centered. This should encourage their congregations to live as such.

I don’t know if this is what you are saying or not, but I don’t think that congregation is to just go out and invite unbelievers to corporate worship. I don’t see this as the primary purpose of corporate worship.

If you aren’t saying this then what are you saying? Where should the evangelist evangelize and should the congregation ever share the Gospel in their everyday lives?

I agree that evangelizing and the GC are too different things. I’m too tired to go back and see if I misused the terms. 🙂

Mark

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