>I took some time this week to check in on the Southern Baptist Convention via live streaming. I knew that one of the issues that would be discussed was the Great Commission Task Force Final Report. I had read the report and was excited to see some of the ideas and thoughts behind it. While I am glad for the voice and direction of the report, I am afraid that the churches of the SBC are missing the heartbeat of the Great Commission while at the same time being passionate for its results.
One of the things that Southern Baptists are passionate about is helping those who don’t know Christ to meet Him. The history of missions and evangelistic effort in the convention bears this out. Even with the constancy of the heartbeat there seems to be a lack of growth of those who trust Christ and a lack of churches growing through involvement from men and women who have recently trusted Christ.
This is also compounded by the fact that statistically the lives of people in Southern Baptist churches look relatively similar to those of their neighbors who don’t know Christ or attend services of other faith practices. The magnifying glass gets put on the Southern Baptist Convention by the world even sharper when it states positions publicly which the majority of its attendees either don’t agree with or don’t practice in their everyday life. It seems the problem of the convention and its churches is not one of passion for those who don’t know Christ but an inability to help a majority of those who have met Him follow Him.
Every church should have a percentage of their congregation that are not practicing their faith well. We all grow at different rates and through different means. I also believe that growth best happens in our relationship with Christ as we seek to obey Him through fulfilling His mission in our spheres of influence and in this world. We should always have non- and nominal believers among us. But I think as we have focused on certain cultural issues, we have forgotten that personal growth leads to those outward manifestations. Rather than focusing on the cultural hot button issues I wonder if the Spirit is asking us to remind our members of His work of manifesting His fruit in each person’s life.
I am thankful for The Great Commission Task Force and their work. I see wisdom in their recommendation. My desire is for the Southern Baptists to realize that the heartbeat of God’s heart for the lost can only be maintained by those who are growing in a constantly maturing faith in Christ. That is where we as local pastors must do a better job at looking at what we are expecting of our people. We need to ask questions like:
- Do the systems and structures complement the work that the Spirit wants to do in the believer’s life or work against that work?
- Are we actively asking those who join us to follow in a deeper relationship which the god of self is being put to death?
- Are we actively engaging the needs of those around us where the world must stand up and give a response?
The world may hate us but there must come a time where our service to the needy and hurt can no longer allow them to ignore us or call us irrelevant. If we follow Christ, we should receive persecution. But we will also see a trail of those who did not know Him following us to Him. We must follow fully and allow Him to then fulfill His mission.