[Note: this article by SEBTS President Danny Akin is the 11th in a semester-long series on Mondays focusing on the equipping of pastors at Southeastern. President Akin has been a leader in the SBC in calling for a Great Commission Resurgence and in challenging younger leaders to be engaged in the SBC.]
I have been a Southern Baptist all my life. I have no reason to believe I will not die as one. I probably know as well as anyone our weaknesses and shortcomings. Still, my love and support for this Convention of churches has never been stronger. I believe our future is bright and hopeful, and I want to encourage a younger generation of ministers to jump aboard and help us reach the unreached and the underserved with the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ. From the associational level to the state level, to the national level, I believe the Southern Baptist Convention is worthy of your time, energy and investment. Why? Let me offer three compelling reasons.
First, there is a passion for international missions. Southern Baptists believe heaven and hell are real and that a personal relationship with Jesus makes all the difference where one will spend eternity. That is why we give hundreds of millions of dollars annually to support almost 5,000 missionaries around the world. We do not do international missions perfectly, but we do it well. And, we are willing to adapt and change our methods with changing times. I know this first hand as two of my own sons and their families served with the IMB. I know this personally because I am on the international field every year seeing the life-changing results of our efforts. I know this experientially because the leadership at the IMB are some of my dearest friends and heroes. Reinvent the wheel if you want, or climb on this gospel spreading train and enjoy being a part of one of the greatest rides this side of heaven.
Second, there is a new emphasis and focus on North American church planting and church revitalization. This two-prong strategy was long overdue. Today NAMB has targeted the exploding mega-cities for church planting. NAMB has in its sights those underserved areas of North America where hardly a candle light is shining forth the good news of Jesus. NAMB is leading the way in helping churches plant ethnically and racially diverse churches so that our Great Commission Convention of churches will look more and more like the eternal and heavenly bride of Christ. And, while focusing on church planting, NAMB is also working hard to help plateaued and dying churches find new life in gospel preaching, personal evangelism, and effective ministry. Both LifeWay and the six seminaries are gladly joining hands with our sister entity to reverse the downward spiral of baptism, church membership and worship attendance. I will not deny that the pruning of our numbers might be helpful and more honest. However, we have been losing ground with the North American population for over 50 years. By God’s grace and for His glory, I am praying that the Lord of the harvest is sowing seed through faithful churches for a grand reversal and a great revival!
Third, there is an uncompromising commitment to biblical fidelity and theological integrity in the six Southern Baptist seminaries. I again know this first hand because of the close working relationship I have with the other seminary presidents. All of our schools gladly embrace as our confessional statement the BF&M 2000. Our faculties, without exception, pledge to teach in accordance with and not contrary to, and without mental reservation or hesitation, this doctrinal formulation. As a result, there is nothing less than substantial agreement on a body of theological truth that represents our united confessional identity. Would you like a few examples? Note the following and my list is not exhaustive!
We affirm the inerrancy, infallibility, authority and sufficiency of the Bible.
We affirm the Triune God who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent.
We affirm God as Creator and reject naturalistic evolution as nonsense.
We affirm both the dignity and depravity of man.
We affirm the full deity, perfect humanity and sinlessness of Jesus the Son of God.
We affirm the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement as foundational for understanding the cross work of our Savior.
We affirm the good news of the gospel as the exclusive and only means whereby any person is reconciled to God.
We affirm the biblical nature of a regenerate church witnessed in believer’s baptism by immersion.
We affirm salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
We affirm the reception of the Holy Spirit at the moment of regeneration/conversion and the blessing of spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.
We affirm the literal, visible and historical return of Jesus Christ to this earth when He will manifest fully His kingdom.
We affirm the reality of an eternal heaven and an eternal hell with Jesus as the only difference.
We affirm a “sanctity of life” ethic from conception to natural death.
We affirm the sanctity of heterosexual marriage, the goodness of sex in marriage and the gift of children, lots of them!
We affirm the complementary nature of male/female relationships rejoicing in the divine ordering of them for the home and the church; and the list could go on.
I believe the case has been made as to why ministers within the SBC should not just be a part, they should be involved! We want you. We need you. I believe your investment will not be wasted!