The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention (Pt. 5)

#5) Southern Baptist have a hopeful future if our denomination at all levels begins to reflect the demographic and racial makeup of our nation and the nations.

Southern Baptists were born, in part, out of a racist context and have a racist heritage. That will forever be to our shame. To deny or ignore this is foolish. Actually it is dishonest. By God’s grace and the Spirit’s conviction, we publically repented of this sin in 1995 on our 150th anniversary, but there is still much work to be done. To my utter dismay, some still refuse to own up to our past transgression, perhaps because the seeds of this sin are still scattered across too much of our denomination, especially in the South where most of our people still live.

We must confront the sobering reality that the Southern Baptist Convention remains a mostly middle-class, mostly white network of mostly declining churches in the South. If you doubt what I am saying look around today, visit most State Conventions, attend an annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting, or drop in on 99% of our churches on any given Sunday. We can integrate the military, athletics and the workplace, but we can’t integrate the body of Christ! The lack of urgency and concern in this area is mind-boggling. It is spiritually inexcusable.

Until we get right about race I am convinced God will not visit us with revival. The plea for a Great Commission Resurgence will not move heaven, and it will be scoffed at by the world as a sham.

Starting at home we must pursue a vision for our churches that looks like heaven. Yes, we must go around the world to reach Asians and Europeans, Africans and South Americans. But we must also go across the street, down the road, and into every corner of our local mission field where God in grace has brought the nations to us.

Now please hear carefully what I am about to say. I plead with you to consider its merit. This call to reach the ethne here in America and across the globe will demand a greater commitment and a greater devotion, especially on the part of men. Reaching, for example, Muslim men, will require Christian men! More men must have a Christ-centered passion and gospel-centered priorities. More men must leave our nation and go to the nations like our sisters in Christ have been doing for generations! This will demand a radical reorienting of lifestyles, choices, commitments, and perspectives. Business as usual as a denomination and as individuals will not be an option if a real Great Commission Resurgence is to take place. Fathers and grandfathers must live lives that will inspire their children, especially their sons and grandsons, to do something great for God. Step up to the plate men. The time is now. The need has never been greater!

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  1. ed elliott   •  

    Now you’re talking.
    In 2002, I went to the Alexandria, VA jail to preach and teach every Wednesday evening (the demographics of Alexandria leads to a jail that is about 80% black men). After a few years, one of the black Christian men who volunteered there took me to lunch and said, “Do you know what it means to us (referring to the other black jail volunteers) that a very white Southern Baptist has come in here faithfully for three years.”

    I’ve had a goal for years to engage Southern Baptists to seriously invest in Prison and jail ministry to blacks. What better way to put feet to our 1995 apology than to REALLY help black men transition from prison? AND to send teaching teams from our sound SBC churches into the jails–we must combat the rampant prosperity teaching that infects jails and prisons.

    I have recently developed an appeal that I plan to present to Mark Dever, Eric Redmond, and other SBC church leaders who are part of the Sothern Baptist Conservative of Virginia (SBCV) here in the DC Area. I am agitating for serious investment in Jail Ministry and short-term financial help for transitioning Christian inmates. I think NAMB would do well to add PLANTING MINISTRIES to our admirable aim to PLANT CHURCHES. We can possibly win our black families by fiercely loving the Christian men who are returning from prison. Daniel, keep up the good work…

  2. Robert Reeves   •  

    Dr. Akin is right on with this post. Opening ourselves up as Southern Baptists to more racial diversity within our congregations will not only be a blessing to ourselves but will send an important message to a world without Christ that we really do love ALL people like He does.

    We are blessed here in Louisville, Kentucky, to have a powerful example of what can be accomplished when churches make the decision to break down racial barriers. Earlier this year, the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly black congregation, and Shively Heights Baptist Church, a predominantly white congregation, merged to form the new St. Paul Baptist Church at Shively Heights.

    Dr. Lincoln Bingham, who is now serving as senior pastor, serves as cooperative ministries consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has worked for years to promote racial reconciliation. He and Mark Payton, who was the pastor at Shively Heights and is now Bingham’s associate pastor, have been friends for years and provided the leadership that enabled the merger.

    The two pastors don’t say this is the model that all Baptists should follow — only that it was what God called their congregations to do. The Lord has certainly blessed, however, and the newly-merged church is growing both numerically and spiritually.

    You can listen to an NPR interview with pastors Bingham and Payton at:

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