Two years ago, I served as president of the Southern Baptist Association of State Convention Executive Directors. It was my privilege as leader to set the agenda for our annual meeting. A phrase I had heard—Great Commission Resurgence—greatly captured my imagination. I had been a part of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC, and was thankful for the return of our convention to its conservative roots. But my heart longed for a restored passion among individuals and churches to see the lost brought to faith in Christ.
I asked several of our national leaders to join us for our meeting, where they made presentations that were followed by discussion groups. While some of the dialogue centered on structure, most of us came to a simple conclusion: a resurgence of passion for fulfillment of the Great Commission begins with individual believers and permeates the local church. As Alan Day stated in a recent article, conventions don’t baptize anyone—churches do. The issue of a Great Commission Resurgence among Southern Baptists is a work of the heart and must converge at the church.
Much has been written in recent days calling for restructuring of the convention on multiple levels. I stated last week my willingness to look at structure and search for efficiencies. It is a continual and ongoing process at the BGCO. But be assured I do not think this path will lead us to a Great Commission Resurgence. The SBC was restructured 10 years ago, and there are many reasons to believe we may have created more problems than solutions. To each their opinion.
My heart resonates with many other leaders who believe rearrangement may have some impact, but will still leave us wanting to see the Great Commission restored to center focus. In the end—if we don’t humble ourselves, seek the face of God and turn from selfish and self-centered ways—we will fail. The world from the front door of the church to the ends of the Earth will be Gospel starved.
Much rhetoric has been spouted. Divisive language that denigrates others has been lobbed toward good and godly people with like heart and passion who have a different view of the right path to energizing our convention and her churches to reengage in carrying the Gospel to every point on the Acts 1:8 continuum. I find nothing helpful in these negative statements. While I do not doubt their hearts, I find the spirit objectionable. Surely good men and women who believe the Word of God can sit down and discuss ways to enhance, energize and maximize our dollars and efforts.
Do not be deceived. Restructuring will not bring passion. Passion is a work of the heart turned from self to Christ. Passion for a lost world that begins with my family and neighbor does not start with a restructured convention. It starts with repentance for an uncaring attitude toward lostness. Ignoring the reality that our neighbors will face an eternity separated from God else we share the living water with them is the issue.
My church will not surge toward making disciples, baptizing and teaching them to follow Jesus if I am not willing to be a constant witness. If my church spends its time and money fluffing up the pillows for the saints and ignores the lost world enshrouding them, then my convention will not have a Great Commission passion.
So I suggest something simple. Cool the rhetoric. Fall on our knees—leaders and followers alike. Come together at our convention in Louisville in a couple of weeks on our knees, face to the floor in humble repentance, and then get to work in a loving spirit to seek the fire from Heaven to fall fresh on us. Ask the Holy Spirit to once again embolden and impassion us with a hunger to see the lost come to Christ. Then let’s talk about efficiencies and structure. God will show us the way. The fire of the Spirit will burn away the dross and a new way will emerge. But first things first. Holy Spirit, fall fresh on Your broken people. Please bring Fresh Wind and Fresh Fire.