As we gather here in Birmingham for our 174th annual meeting, I’m reminded of when I was starting my ministry. The Lord called my family and me to pastor a church in Northwest Arkansas. Today, this corner of Arkansas is known as the global headquarters of Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Foods and the University of Arkansas.
When I arrived I was asked what my vision was for the future of the church. I answered, “If from this region in America, God can put retail stores across America and the world; and if from here God can put trucks across America and the world; and if from here God can put chickens across America and the world; and if from here God can put Razorbacks across America and the world; then, certainly from here God wants to raise up a mighty church from this region in America to take the gospel to all of America and the world.”
To God’s glory, what started as a vision in a small gymnasium in 1986 became a mighty church that advances the gospel to the region, across the state, the nation and the world and it all started with a question that someone asked me about the future of the church.
In the Bible, God asked a very similar question to the prophets Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah.
- Then the word of the Lord came to me, asking, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” (Jeremiah 1:11)
- The Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” (Amos 7:8)
- He asked me, “What do you see?” ( Zechariah 4:2)
I believe at this crucial point in our history, the Southern Baptist Convention is facing this question: What do we see in our future as a Convention?
I refuse to accept doom, gloom and despair. I refuse to believe division, strife and disengagement is God’s will. God wants to call us from where we are today and will help us see the future He has for us.
In order for the Southern Baptist Convention — America’s largest Protestant network of cooperating churches — to move from where we are today to where we must be in our future together.
We need to:
1. Live and breathe gospel urgency.
We must become a Convention that believes people need Jesus — and they need Him now.
We must not only believe the gospel, but we must be living and breathing this gospel with a deep sense of urgency.
When we begin living and breathing gospel urgency, we will not bemoan annual baptism numbers, but we will begin celebrating growth and advancement like we have not seen in years. It is time for Southern Baptists to come home: We need to come home to evangelism! This is who we are and what we are about.
2. Empower all churches, all generations, all ethnicities, all languages.
Here’s something you might not know about the Southern Baptist Convention: more than 1 in 5 of our churches are predominantly ethnic minority and multilingual congregations. In fact, of our new church plants in the past year, 62% are either non-Anglo or multiethnic.
Not only that, in any given week, the gospel is preached in over 100 different languages across our churches. This very week at the Southern Baptist Convention, we are offering closed captioning in 21 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.
We are not simply a Convention of one ethnic composition, and if we were, we would not represent the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus started the greatest diversity movement in the history of the world. If we claim to follow him, we must be willing to empower all churches, all generations, all languages and all ethnicities in our convention.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Ronnie Floyd