I spent two days this week at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. It’s so hard to leave town because there are always so many plates spinning and I don’t want any to hit the ground. Of course, that’s probably my inflated ego speaking, in my heart I know that the earth will continue to spin on its axis even while I am away.
It’s hard to leave but it was a nice change of pace. I saw lots of good friends I haven’t seen in a while and I got to be encouraged by some great preaching. I love to hear new voices and it causes me to take notes and think in new and fresh ways. I came back energized.
There were two highlights for me personally from this year’s convention:
1. On Tuesday, J.D. Greear preached the afternoon session. J.D. is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina. He represents the “now” generation of pastors. He’s probably my age or younger (Mid to late 30’s). In just a few years, J.D. has led a turnaround church growing from 350 to 3000+ on three campuses.
J.D.’s message was powerful. He spoke to the centrality of the Gospel and called for a turning away from any and all distractions to that Gospel. The quote of the sermon for me:
“Any gospel that talks about what we need to go do for God rather than what God has done for us is a false gospel.”
The Gospel is an announcement, not an invitation. It proclaims what God has done. It is EXACTLY what the world needs and longs to hear. We must be about the business of proclaiming what God has done.
2. Following the afternoon session on Tuesday, J.D. joined Dr. Ronnie Floyd for a 2 hour+ listening session on the Great Commission Resurgence. Dr. Floyd chairs this task force and J.D. serves on the task for as well. In a “standing room” only room, there was honest and frank discussion about the state of Southern Baptists as a denomination. We are in a desperate situation. We are declining. Fewer people are coming to Christ today because of Southern Baptist efforts than in 1950. The discussion was pointed but healthy and the spirit was good. The Great Commission Task Force has an enormous job ahead of them to weed through all the voices they are hearing and to deliver a report this summer in Orlando to the Convention. I believe thier report could be the most important document for us as a denomination in a generation. It has the potential to redefine and refocus us. If we fail on the Great Commission, we will have failed as a denomination and thus we will truly be irrelevant. As Dr. Floyd reminded us all, “God will fulfill His Great Commission and we need to realize that He does not need us (Southern Baptists) to do it.” Well said. We need to get on board or get left behind. It is a privilege to be used by God, not a right.