The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention (Pt. 1)

Southern Baptists have a hopeful future if we return to our first love and surrender ourselves fully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. (Col 1:15-20; Rev 2:1-7). I have experienced significant grief at how little attention has been paid to this first axiom of my spring 2009 address at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was placed first for a reason. It must be first. It must set and establish the foundation for any future agenda for Southern Baptists. Yet, it has been passed over and quickly dismissed with the wave of a hand and words like, “we all believe that.” However, the question is not do we believe it? The question is do we live it?! The fact is if we don’t live it we really don’t believe it!

Is Jesus Christ really our passion and priority? Do we truly aspire to both know Him and love Him fully? Do we long to see Him “come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:18)? I fear we do not and as a result we too often devolve into petty quarrels, territorialism, turfism, defensiveness and personal agendas that find the Savior no where in sight. Jesus said, “He came to seek and save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Is that our passion? Our priority? Our agenda? His final words are found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:4-8. Have we heard Him? Have we obeyed Him?

Let me quickly add that a right reading of Scripture will not set these statements in opposition to or at odds with one another. Any appeal to Acts 1:8 to justify not getting more personnel and resources to the unreached nations is wrong headed. Actually it is shameful. Most of our Jerusalems have a gospel witness. Large portions of the uttermost parts of the earth do not. Who will tell them about Jesus?

George Barna is on target: “most Christians don’t act like Jesus because they don’t think like Jesus.” Again Jesus said, “I came to seek and save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10). Southern Baptists need to think like Jesus. Southern Baptists need to act like Jesus. His Lordship requires it. It demands it. Any other agenda is to get the first and most important thing wrong. If we fail here, we will fail everywhere.