Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So. Baptists Seek Great Commission Resurgence

From The Christian Post -

Southern Baptists are abuzz about a Great Commission Resurgence they hope will move the denomination past the infighting and toward proclaiming the Gospel and winning souls to Christ.

As falling baptism and membership numbers are beginning to become a trend in the Southern Baptist Convention, pastors, ministers, students and lay people are signing on to the Great Commission Resurgence (www.greatcommissionresurgence.com) to reverse the decline and return to what they feel is most important – being Christ's witnesses.

Since the release of the declaration on Monday, more than 1,200 Southern Baptists, including SBC president Johnny Hunt and R. Albert Mohler, Jr. of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, have added their signatures.

"What unites us in this movement is not some naive notion that we are all the same or that we all agree on every doctrinal or practical issue that confronts us," wrote Tom Ascol, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Fla., on his blog Thursday. "Rather, we agree that the gospel is central to any and every Christian effort and that we must not allow anything, no matter how good and noble it might be, to detract from proclamation of that gospel around the world."

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Great!

Wonderful!

Any time more Christians want to get out in the mission field and help the rest of us witness to a lost and dying world is welcome news to me.

But I feel there is a problem and I see it in the second paragraph of the story.....

"As falling baptism and membership numbers are beginning to become a trend in the Southern Baptist Convention, pastors, ministers, students and lay people are signing on to the Great Commission Resurgence (www.greatcommissionresurgence.com) to reverse the decline and return to what they feel is most important – being Christ's witnesses." (Bolding mine)

Feelings.......whoa, whoa, whoa feelings........

The motive is wrong here.

The reason this group wants to get back to what they feel is most important (being Christ's witnesses) is so they can get their membership numbers back to a level they feel comfortable with.

Folks, that is not what evangelism is all about.

Evangelism, the proclamation of the good news, is not about how many people we can get saved and how many people we can get baptised and onto our church membership roles.

Evangelism is not about our motives.

Evangelism is not about our desires.

Evangelism is not about us being self-centered.

Evangelism is the joyful proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ from an obedient Christian!

The article did go on to say this.........

"Southern Baptists who sign the Great Commission Resurgence manifesto affirm a commitment to: Christ’s Lordship, Gospel-centeredness, the Great Commandments, biblical inerrancy and sufficiency, a healthy confessional center, biblically healthy churches, sound biblical preaching, methodological diversity that is biblically informed, more effective convention structure, and distinctively Christian families."

.......this is good (although a more 'effective convention structure' doesn't sound like something Jesus would promote), but I think we can see that declining baptisms and memberships roles is the main reason this group has signed up to get back out there with those crazy evangelists and not the fact that taking the Gospel to 'the ends of the Earth' is what obedient Christians should be doing everywhere they go to begin with.

14 comments:

Gabriel said...

Dawg,

Nice post.

There's a good discussion going on in the comments of my last post, if you'd care to join.

-G

Jonathan said...

Just to be completely fair to those in the SBC (of which I'm not a member), the article didn't quote anyone from the SBC saying they are doing this for better numbers (though I'm sure IT IS their motive). The author of the article said that. I think that is something that will be overlooked by 90% of readers. Other than that, I'm in complete agreement with you.

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks Jonathan - You are correct, no one in the SBC is quoted as saying that in this article.

But, as a Southern Baptist myself, I have heard from my own ears (in more than one pulpit) how baptisms are down and church membership is declining because 'we' are not out there proclaiming the Gospel.

That very well may be.......but that's not why we should be out there proclaiming the Gospel.

I'm afraid this "Great Commission Resurgence" is a theme right now among many in the SBC to get our numbers back to where they were (what ever that is).

Why so much emphasis on baptisms and numbers anyway?

Why can't we just go and preach the biblical Gospel and let seed fall where it may?

God always determines the results and gets the glory no matter if the number of true converts coming into the fold is 1 or a million per year.

Tracy Wagman said...

My definition of evangelism is allowing God to use us in spite of us to populate heaven.

Elmanjaggo said...

"Catholic two cents"

One of the biggest issues that the SBC is facing is poor teaching on contraception over the past 90 years. Chastity in marriage as well as before marriage are held on common ground. This creates a realm of hypocrisy that children pick up on. We must be open to life in order to enjoy the true nature of sex. Contraception is against God's law. The fallout is apparent today across the world. When we break from the truths of the Christian Family, we can expect fallout from those we are ordained to raise. While I applaud the focus of internal conversion that is preached by true Baptist Converts. I fear that they greatly miss the need of regeneration to accept saving grace. When numbers fall, it is up to the Church Leadership to examine what it is that they preach. To distance yourself from the issue should go against your conscious if you truly love you neighbor.

ExPatMatt said...

There was a good discussion recently at 'Stuff Christians Like' and a commentor (I forget who) said [paraphrasing];

"It is not for us to witness, rather we should be witnesses"

Something like that.

This does sound a lot like the church getting in the way of the Church...

Wayne Dawg said...

Yes Tracy, I like that. In spite of us......

Wayne Dawg said...

Matt - That's what I see too.

Christians should keep the main thing the main thing; worshipping God and spreading the Gospel.

Let God worry about the numbers.

ExPatMatt said...

Although, there's a lot to be said for organization - you don't want a bunch of people out there spreading a False Gospel, do you?

A fine line to balance.

Ike said...

"The SBC establishment is firmly and openly anti-Calvinist. There is no question about that. There is but one question. How long before the SBC realizes that defeating Calvinism would represent a Phyrric victory at best. Anyone paying attention sees the stark contrast between ministries like T4G, 9Marks, Desiring God, and the SBC Annual meeting. One of these groups is known for being 1) anti-Calvinistic, 2) highly politicized, and 3) void of the youth and vitality needed to sustain it in the future (hence, that ubiquitous question, “Exactly why are you in the SBC?”)."

Read the whole article here:

http://www.voddiebaucham.org/vbm/Blog/Entries/2008/11/12_The_SBC_and_Calvinism:__A_Personal_Perspective.html

Wayne Dawg said...

Matt - Yes organization is needed (Do not forsake the assembling of the saints) to make sure doctrine is sound and false teaching is in check, but I was speaking of counting numbers for the sake of counting numbers and keeping the focus of the church (worship and evangelizing) the main thing.

Wayne Dawg said...

"Exactly why are you in the SBC?”

Ike - Good question.

Let me read the article and get back to you.

Paul Latour said...

I'm with you, Wayne. Good points. Very important issue! You might find something indirectly related to what you brought up here in my latest offering.

Carolyn said...

Excellent points Wayne, and I agree with Matt here too, with being a witness, not just witnessing by talking. While I was baptized in the Southern Baptist church, I noticed a while back as well that the whole evangelizing message was mainly to bring in more people and grow the building more than the church. The days of the mega church is here, and pastors seem to all want to get in on theirs becoming the next one.
God bless!