GCRTF Report Challenges to all Southern Baptists (2): Challenges for Individuals and for Families

GCRTF Report Challenges to all Southern Baptists (2): Challenges for Individuals and for Families

By: Danny Akin & Alvin Reid

Years ago a man far away from the U.S. got an idea. Driven with zeal and passion, he convinced others to join him in this idea. This man led no great army at the time. He had no nation under his control.

Yet this man has changed the world. He convinced a couple dozen men to come to the United States in the name of their ideology. They quietly learned to fly domestic air carriers.

On a day that will be remembered forever, they unleashed an attack Jack Bauer could not have anticipated. Using nothing more than box cutters and the ability to fly planes, these terrorists killed 3000 people on 9-11-2001.

And our world is changed. You see one man can affect history. One person can lead a movement, whether a diabolical one like bin Laden’s, or a noble one like Martin Luther’s Reformation.

If we will have a genuine Great Commission Resurgence it will be because individual believers become consumed again with those things that matter most to the heart of God, and the gospel is the center of that. Earlier movements we remember with great enthusiasm-the First Great Awakening, for instance-would never have happened without individuals stepping out of the status quo into the river of gospel passion and truth. These are days of radical lostness, and only a radical commitment to the Great Commission will suffice.

The bottom line lies not in structures, although they matter. The issue of first importance is not how much a church gives to the CP, though we hope all will increase their giving.

Believers must begin to see the world as if they were missionaries, compelled with a message that matters more than life itself. The American Dream must die in our time if a love for the gospel will live beyond us. For this to happen, pastors must see the need to live missionally before their people. They must begin to think more like missionary strategists, helping those they lead to think like missionaries whether they are plumbers, lawyers, teachers or homemakers, regardless of their location or vocation.

But one thing more must happen. Families must become Great Commission homes. Parents must stop adopting an American Dream posture on the one hand, pushing their children to financial prosperity over the gospel or an immature MTV attitude over living lives that truly matter on the other.

Richard Baxter once said there would be no reformation in the land unless there was first reformation in the home. Over the past few years we have asked people in churches and classes this question: how many of you grew up in a Christian home? Normally the response is about 80-90%. We then asked: how many of you remember talking as a family about reaching your neighbors for Christ? Usually the response is about 10%.

We raise our children as functioning atheists among our neighbors, and we do so to our shame!

The dirty little secret in the Southern Baptist Convention could be that when separated from our church buildings and programs, far too many families in our churches demonstrate very little gospel living and even less gospel sharing.

What can we do?

Ask yourself whether you think like a missionary. Do you, for instance, have at least three names of people in your cell phone who do not know Jesus, but you know well enough to invite them to coffee or lunch to talk about Christ? Do you have relationships with unsaved people, or is Christianity for you a subculture separate from the world for whom Christ died?

Ask yourself this question: “What if the North American Mission Board commissioned my family as missionaries?” You would not change your job, your location, or anything except that you are now living your life, doing your job, whatever it is, as a missionary. Your primary assignment is to live out and speak about the gospel in your community, making disciples, growing churches. How would you live differently? What if you were assigned to your community and to your job or school to be a missionary there?

After all, life is a mission trip-take it!

If you are a pastor, ask yourself how you can help individuals in your church to think and live and share like missionaries. How can you help employees in the public school to appropriately live as missionaries, since it is the biggest mission field in America? How can men and women live sent lives in their occupations?

You may be thinking, “I do not know how to do this.” This may take a little more work than preparing a couple of sermons a week and making a few visits. I am not minimizing the importance of those things, but if we will be serious about a move of God that spreads the gospel effectively across this land, our schedules must change. Our learning curve must accelerate. We must make dramatic changes if we will be serious about the gospel affecting our world in our time.

There is one more thing you can do. You can pray. We are not being trite. We need a God-intervention. Some use prayer for revival as an excuse, praying often and doing little. We think we should pray hard as we live sent lives.

If all politics are local, all things spiritual ultimately are personal. If there will be a Great Commission Resurgence, it starts in the mirror, and will include the living room.

GCRTF Report Challenges to all Southern Baptists (1): Introduction

GCRTF Report Challenges to all Southern Baptists (1): Introduction

By: Danny Akin & Bruce Riley Ashford

[Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of an eight-part series commenting on the GCRTF’s “Challenges Addressed to All Southern Baptists.” In the series, we will address individually the GCRTF’s challenges to individual Christians and families, to local churches and pastors, to local associations and state conventions, to LifeWay, Guidestone, and the ERLC, and to all Southern Baptist leaders. We believe the GCRTF Report is a critically important and historically significant step, and pray that the Convention adopts it as a step on the way toward a Great Commission Resurgence.]

Through four centuries of history, Baptists have displayed a remarkable continuity in doctrine and practice. With historic Christianity, we have confessed that God is Triune, that his Son is fully God and fully Man, that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and that the Scriptures are the Word of God written in the words of men. In addition, however, we have held that the church is regenerate in its membership, autonomous under the headship and Lordship of Christ, and free from state control. These last three distinctives relate to the doctrine of the church. Baptists have always been serious about the Church and specifically about the local church. It is through his churches that Christ disciples his children, directs his mission to the lost, demonstrates his glory to a watching world, and extends his kingdom.

What does this mean for the Southern Baptist Convention? It means that we ensure that our network of cooperating churches are continually having primary and formative influence on the Conventions’ mission in general, and on her local associations, state conventions, and entities in particular. The SBC was formed as a network of local churches who partnered together for the sake of mission. In the last 50 years, however, she has become more and more of a denominational bureaucracy, with her associations, conventions, and entities taking on lives of their own. We must help return her to her roots. The SBC of the twenty-first century must be a missional network, just as the churches of Acts were a missional network. Our focus must be the gospel, and our means of cooperation must be primarily “churches partnering for the sake of mission.” Thom Rainer has urged our churches to simplify and streamline so as to maximize their effectiveness, and we think that this applies to our convention as well. The roadmap for revisioning the SBC and her associations, conventions, and entities will always involve two ideas: local church and missional cooperation.

This part of our series, is a commentary on the GCRTF’s “Challenges Addressed to All Southern Baptists,” which calls Southern Baptists and SBC churches to remain vigilant in their missional cooperation, particularly in regard to SBC associations, conventions, and entities. Danny Akin continues his general editorship over the series and partners with other authors in addressing the final section of the GCRTF report. He joins Alvin Reid concerning challenges for individual Christians and families; Steve McKinion and Jon Akin about challenges for local churches and pastors; Nathan Finn about challenges for local associations and state conventions; Ryan Hutchinson about challenges for LifeWay, Guidestone, and the ERLC; Bruce Ashford about the challenges for seminaries; and finally, Nathan Akin about challenges for all Southern Baptist leaders.

The great crisis of the SBC in the late 20th century was that biblical revelation itself was being attacked. We met that challenge and will continue to do so. The challenge of the 21st century is not only to hold the ground won in the Conservative Resurgence, but to foster a Great Commission Resurgence. Evangelical Baptist theology goes hand-in-hand with mission. Evangelical Baptist history is inextricably intertwined with mission. There is an inherent theological and historical connection between being Baptist and being missional. If this connection is severed, we lose God’s blessing and its attendant spiritual power. If this connection is strengthened, we receive God’s blessing and its attendant spiritual vitality. We want Southern Baptists to be on mission with God. By His grace and for His glory, we pray it will happen!