Years ago, a popular commercial for a fast food restaurant showed a diminutive older lady vociferously questioning the person at the counter. “Where’s the beef?!” It was humorous, but the advertisement got the point across. Other burger chains served only a small portion of meat, but this one super-sized its beef patties.
That same approach could be applied to individual Christ-followers and the church. Upon examining the abysmal baptismal records of our churches, I think it would be appropriate to pose the question, “Where’s the baptisms?!” or “Where’s the witness?!”
Somewhere on the way to the family life center, we have lost the primary reason for our existence. Churches are not holy clubs for the righteous. Church is not merely a place to provide Christian fellowship and fun activities, nor are we just about music and preaching. God has placed your church and mine in the community to bear testimony of His saving grace and to connect those transformed by the Gospel through baptism and body life.
I am afraid we have been lulled to sleep by membership growth without baptisms (transfer by letter), conversions without baptisms and even the few baptisms without transforming body life. This does not sound like the New Testament plan of salvation.
Baptism was not an option in the early church. One did not believe and walk away. Throughout the New Testament, people were converted, baptized and became active participants in the body life of the church. They daily gathered, prayed, encouraged one another and found strength to face the world. They witnessed to the love of Christ, and the church saw new believers added to the fellowship daily.
But one cannot get the cart before the horse. It all begins with Christ-followers becoming fishers of men. I fear we have ignored our Lord’s words: “Come, follow me, and I WILL make you fishers of men.” Christ-followers do not just go to church. They walk with Jesus, and He daily takes them into the highways of life where real people with real needs exist. He gives His followers opportunity to share the Gospel, and His Holy Spirit uses their witness to bring people to faith. Those who embrace Jesus declare their faith through baptism and connection to the body.
There is a deafening silence among believers. Some spend a lifetime in church listening to preaching. They attend Bible studies and conferences-but they just never get it. It is not about being bloated with biblical knowledge. It is about being doers of the Word. It is about impacting lostness that covers us like a blanket. It is about witnessing to the life-changing power of Christ.
I would propose that every Oklahoma Baptist church should declare unashamedly and powerfully that in 2008 the priority in the church will focus on becoming a witnessing community. Every meeting should be filled with prayer for the lost by name. Every activity should be enwrapped with witness. Every believer should be challenged to make every day a day to tell someone the good news of Christ. Then when asked, “Where’s the baptisms?!” or “Where’s the witness?!”-we will have an answer.