I am Southern Baptist… always have been, always will be (God willing). Over the last few years, my heart has been broken over things I’ve seen… and experienced… as a pastor of Southern Baptist Churches. At the last Southern Baptist Convention, a team was assembled to work toward the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) which is a plan to return the denomination to it’s roots of missions and evangelism. I was reading the interim report of the G.C.R. Team (Click here) and found myself greatly encouraged.
Then I got to one paragraph on page 15… I stopped and quit reading because I believe THIS paragraph (From my perspective and experience) is THE key for Southern Baptist Convention churches to be successful in sharing the Gospel of Jesus effectively in the future. Here’s the paragraph written by Dr. Ronnie Floyd who is the Chairman of the GCR Team (Emphasis mine)…
If we are going to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and make disciples of all the nations, we need to learn how to get along with each other, creating a new culture among us. Our present culture represents 1 Corinthians 3 much more than 1 Corinthians 13. Envy, strife, and divisions needs to become unacceptable. Instead, let this world know us by the depths of our love for Jesus, the Gospel, and one another. If we are going to keep our people engaged and give hope to a future generation, we need to create a culture built on these core values.
He nailed it! With surgical precision, Dr. Floyd identified the single most important element that will either help or hinder the possibility of Southern Baptists reaching people for Jesus in the future. The issue is the health of local congregations… for that is where all the authority and activity of Southern Baptists has been centered.
Many Southern Baptist churches are seriously dysfunctional. There are schisms and divisions everywhere… within the congregations. There are competing attitudes that do not show evidence of love on any level. Dr. Floyd is right… this is a problem throughout Southern Baptist Convention churches. To say it isn’t a problem is to be laughably and willingly ignorant of the truth.
I’ve observed envy, strife, and division to a degree that should have brought three congregations I’ve served to their knees… regardless of who was “right” or “wrong,” but it didn’t. I hear about problems in churches regularly, I’ve seen it often, and I’ve experienced it myself. So therefore it is this preacher’s opinion that…
Unless local congregations learn that love for God and each other is more important than minor doctrinal differences… GCR won’t work.
Unless local congregations trust their leaders… and leaders trust the congregation… GCR won’t happen.
Unless local congregations refuse to let people breed disunity and disharmony in the fellowship… GCR won’t move forward.
Unless local congregations quit letting a few people control the direction of the church instead of those God calls to lead the church… GCR will sputter rather than race forward.
Unless local congregations quit letting a few power people make decisions for them without letting the rest of the church know what they’re doing and why… GCR will be hindered because 1 Cor 3 will trump 1 Cor 13 in that fellowship.
Unless local congregations learn to forgive and reconcile with each other… unless congregations repent of sin… unless congregations seek God’s face before anything else… GCR is a great idea… but it will fail.
Unless ministers and the congregations they serve believe they are on the same side… and act that way… GCR will have a little heat without much light. And that will be a tragedy!
I pray for revival and awakening… in the local church and the churches I’ve served. I’m convinced Dr. Floyd hit the bull’s-eye about when and how the SBC will be effective once again in missions and evangelism. It will happen when 1 Cor 3 is replaced IN THE LOCAL CHURCH with 1 Cor 13. And that means it begins with me.
Now I’m going to go finish reading the interim report from the GCR Team…