Archive for the ‘evangelism’ Category

“And let it begin with me”

April 19, 2010

“As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.” – the missional vision under Component #1

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:19-20a.

Regardless of what transpires in Orlando this June, the ultimate test of the Great Commission Resurgence will be numerical…and financial…and chronological. It will be evident when we actually take time out off our schedules and money out of our budgets to use it for the Gospel and the Kingdom.

From these two standards, I see a easy way for measure our GCR progress:

GOING: How much money classified “missions”, and not sent to the Convention, at the local church level actually materializes into sent people? How much time in the church calendar is dedicated to “crossing the ocean” or “crossing the street”?

MAKE DISCIPLES: How much of our church budget or church schedule is dedicated to discipleship…and not spiritualized fellowship (NOTE: not that fellowship is bad, but it is not GCR)

BAPTIZING: In coordination with the above metric, how many of our baptizees remain a part of the fellowship after one year? How many of our life-long members are involved in the journey to the baptismal waters (evangelizing, discipling, etc.)

TEACHING: 2 Timothy 2:2 sums it up nicely…are we teaching information or “the latest ideas“…or are we preparing God’s people to reach the world and to grow in Christ-likeness

EVERY PERSON/ALL THE NATIONS: Are we thinking of ALL when we budget our time and money…both international AND domestic lost…both those who have never heard and those who need to hear again?

Ultimately, will state conventions survive this review? Not in their present form: some will have to jettison much of their activity and re-direct much of their funds. Others will simply have to dissolve and be re-formed to be GCR-reformed (NOTE: no soteriological statement intended here!) In thirty years, will we have a 200-year old institution or an accomplished commandment…we can have both, but only if we “let it begin with me”

GCRTF Progress Report, Component 1: Missional Vision

February 23, 2010

“Component #1: We believe in order for us to work together more faithfully and effectively towards the fulfillment of the Great Commission, we will ask Southern Baptists to rally towards a clear and compelling missional vision and begin to conduct ourselves with core values that will create a new and healthy culture within the Southern Baptist Convention.” — Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 13

Tonight, at 9:30 PM (CST), the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention delivered their progress report to the Executive Committee of the same. Over the next few weeks, I hope (and plan…provided school doesn’t continue to get in the way!) to blog my own thoughts/reflections on this pivotal action. I surmise that my fellow Southern Baptist bloggers will do the same….

The missional vision cast by the task force is as follows:

“As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present
the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to
make disciples of all the nations.” — Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Progress Report, p. 13

This is a noble endeavor and one I think that each church member and each local church should dedicate themselves to do even now. My own church is already planning for our summer missions efforts, this year to include our first international trip (to West Africa). But this vision must also include the local as well as the global. I committed myself to not speak at the Convention (which I did) until I had witnessed to ten people or had one person be converted by that testimony. Coming down to the wire (two days before), I was privileged to have my first person accept Christ as Lord and Savior after I presented the gospel to them (Tony, I’ve prayed for you daily and will continue to do so!) I challenge myself and you to sow seed in anticipation of “the brink of this global harvest” (p. 8)

Now for a history lesson:

I has occurred to me of late that we, the SBC, are yet again in the wake of our denominational inertia, which I have called the 14-40 effect. A brief study of the history of major events in the Convention’s 164-plus years has shown that major decisions about new initiatives occur about every fourteen years (see below) and major doctrinal/policy decisions every 40 years. (If someone would like to liken that the the Matthean pattern of generations in Jesus’ lineage or the 40-year length of a generation in the OT, feel free to spiritualize away!)

14-year  cycles
1845 – SBC founded
1859 – SBTS founded
1873 – L. Moon volunteers for China, first SSB dissolved due to fin. crisis, first meeting of Southern Baptists in Texas 1874
1888 – first Christmas missions offering (WMU)
1901 – proto-SWBTS at Baylor
1917 – NOBTS founded as BBI
1929 – WMU president first reports (women speaking in Convention)
1944 – GGBTS founded
1957 – MBTS founded
1970 – Denver meeting (Broadman controversy)
1985 – CR tipping point (majority of trustees now conservative)
2000 – BFM 2000

40-year cycles

1845 – SBC founded
1888 – WMU founded
1925 – BFM 1925
1963 – BFM 1963
2000 – BFM 2000
2004 – SBC withdraws from Baptist World Alliance

As we approach the next impulse (2013-14), I suggest that we think clearly these next few Conventions about what we really want out of our denominational cooperation. As you might expect, I have some ideas that I will share…but for those, you will have to tune in again!

Something more wholesome and kind!

June 5, 2009

Having heard no pushback on any kind from my last post, I have gathered that:

1) we are all in agreement, or

2) no one is reading this…:(

Nonetheless, I am certain that someday, I will be searched for on the internet and this blog will be found and then skimmed with the proverbil finetooth comb for errors against whomever

Thus let me balance out my ire with saccharine kindness.

I planted three apple trees that I had raised from seeds (Some people keep dogs as pets…I keep germinating seedlings!) behind my mother’s house last August. One has done very well and is as tall as the (uncut) grass around it. The other two are hanging on…one of them barely (the ribbon I tied to it so I could find it again has actually bent it over!)

What moral/societal lesson can we derive from this? Life is more than “bloom where you’re planted” and “just hang it there!” Given the same circumstances, some will abundantly succeed, some will tread water, and some will live on the edge of oblivion. Which, I think, is one of the intended meanings of Matthew 13:8,23

8″And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.
23″And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (NASV)

The perspective is not on how much you produce, but that you produce. Some will be blessed, like Isaac, a probable referent of Jesus (Genesis  26:12-14). And some will only return what they put in…while others barely return anything. The difference between the condemned slave in Matthew 25:24-30 and the builders of the holy temple in I Corinthians 3:12-15 is their effort. We misread these two passages sometimes….the testworthiness of the temple is based on the base materials (wood, hay, straw) as the decorations are only on the surface and often “burned up”. The wicked slave gives a really bad excuse: if he knows the master “harvests where he had not sown and gathers where he had not scattered seed”, why wasn’t he afraid enough to try to impress him?

Do not worry, my dear friends, if others harvest more than you…be of the mind to harvest still!

Do not tarry at your labor..sow much seed and be an aide…help the Kingdom as you will!

Do not think of others’ treasures when there’s souls and lives to save…work until the Master calls you!

For soon the working’s over and rest will come to you

And Christ in comfort keep you and celebrate the new!

Reflections on the “Generational Issues and the SBC”

May 21, 2009

I recently watched the “Generational Issues and the SBC” Panel Q&A conducted at Southeastern Seminary and found it to be most helpful for my own thinking about the future and the present of the SBC. I will treat the four speakers alphabetically and have included the approximate starting times (according the media player at the website) of the comments I quote.

Daniel Akin: (website)

“Bottom line: if you do that [violating a signed covenant],… your issue is integrity. Basically, you’re a liar, basically you’re dishonest, basically you are disqualified for ministry…. If you give your word to do something, then keep your word.” (63:00)

How appropriate in a day when we have a young man who chose:

  1. to attend a fundamentalist school
  2. to violate the covenant of that school to take his girlfriend to the prom

…and yet wants to whine and complain about their treatment (expulsion for violating the covenant he chose to sign and violate) of him!

“I am not a fundamentalist. I am an evangelical who affirms the fundamentals.” (16:15)

I have always found Dr. Akin to be a unfiying voice in the Convention in recent years. Yet again, I would like to thank him for encouraging me to move forward with a resolution to the 2007 Convention on soteriology.

Nathan Finn: (contributor at Between the Times)

“If your Calvinism precludes you from cooperating with non-Calvinists, then you would probably be happier somewhere else. But if your Calvinism is not the primary issue for you, but maybe an important issue, but you’re willing to work with other evangelical Baptist Christians who disagree with you on the doctrines of grace, then the Southern Baptist Convention is a great place to be.” (46:00)

I appreciate your emphasis on cooperation over Calvinism. I hope that others will agree to share a unified front against the powers of Satan and not let the friendly fire of theological discussions to weaken our ranks!

JD Greear: (blog)

“Good parachurchism…exists to assist the local church in her ministry…. Bad parachurchism tries to take local ministry from the local church,…thus separating it from the context God intended to move forward…. The Southern Baptist Convention was conceived in good parachurchism and over time, many parts of it have devolved into bad parachurchism.” (18:00)

I am glad that he has made a statement, recently reinforced by the Great Commission Resurgence statement (of which he is a signatory), that the Convention may need to be tweaked to be more effective. I’m sorry, state and national entities, but the years of programmatic and redundant ministry have passed. Just as we as a denomination need to trim our personal fat, we may need to reconsider if, for instance, each state convention really needs their own retirement homes system or not.

Greear later states: Take the lead (in doing ministry) and take what you’re doing to the institutions. See how fast they get onboard and those that don’t, “will probably get left behind.” (16:45)

David Nelson: (SEBTS article)

“I don’t think the major issue facing the Southern Baptist Convention is intergenerational. I think there are two issues. I think that there are competing visions for the Convention…. I think that we don’t all agree about what the gospel is. Those are two pretty big issues that divide us.” (22:30)

Nelson goes on to describe them:

Two visions:
1) those that enjoyed the CR and would like for things to be just like it was when the CR occurred:

  • separatist stance: “Baptists have the way to do things”
  • “Christian” subculture that isn’t and distance us from those we are trying to reach with the gospel

2) more ecumenical, willing to work with like-minded groups that are not Southern Baptist

  • focused on cultural transformation or engagement
  • interested in breaking out of the subcultures we have created

Two views of the gospel
“pray a prayer and get a better life” vs. “no life apart from Christ and maybe a life of suffering in this age”

Personally, I am in the second category on both terms (and I’m pretty sure the Bible is too!). I hope that the years ahead for the SBC will be a second Resurgence and not a second Baptist Civil War. I may blog on this issue in the coming weeks, depending on the ruling of my church’s elders about my plans.

Theology Ditty 9: “What is the relationship between natural revelation and non-Christian religion?”

May 4, 2009

After more than a month of silence (working and those seminary papers really eat up your waking time!), I’m back! Hopefully, I’ll post twice a week for May to catch up for lost time….

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Non-Christian religion is simply the expression of mankind’s realization of God’s truth paired with the distortion of His nature. Man-centered religion is the attempt to adapt what we know to be true and right in the framework of a wrong answer to one or both of the questions: “Is there a God?” and “What is the nature of mankind?”

Buddhism and Eastern mysticism answers both questions incorrectly, in that they see mankind as inherently good, but mistaken about his place in reality and that they see the non-existence or palpable absence of God. From that foundation, they take the ideas that we must act rightly and that we inherently seek for something beyond ourselves to mean that by releasing our hold on this world will ultimately free us from its corruption and its limitations. Thus the East seeks to satisfy God’s demands for perfection through self-denial and meditative transcendence.

Works-based religions, whether polytheistic or monotheistic, rightly recognize that there is a God, but that our nature is such that we have the capacity to please Him and earn a life with Him in our own deeds and choices. From that, they discern that God (or Allah or Brahma or whoever) has put in us the desire to act rightly and seek Him/It. Thus many of the world’s religions attempt to fulfill the innate morality God has given us through the strictures of legalism.

Naturalism, best typified by evolutionary thought and practice, answers the question of God’s existence falsely, but does recognize that mankind is inherently wicked and violent. From that atheistic anthropology, they deduce that we act rightly because it benefits us in ever-increasing circles of influence with concomitantly decreasing benefit to us. So the rationalist view is that we are moral people because our biology (our extended desire to survive through reproduction) leads us to behave that way.

Theology Ditty 7: “Is Natural Revelation Enough to Save a Person?”

March 9, 2009

No, natural revelation is insufficient to save someone because it lacks the ability to reveal in whom that person must rely for salvation. While creation testifies to the goodness and ultimate existence of God, it does not speak to His plan of salvation as such. This might be explained as the result of creation, apart from mankind, not being in active rebellion to Him and thus not needing His salvation.

What is needed to be saved is the knowledge of the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ two millennia ago. This was difficult for the people living proximate to him to understand (thus a reason for the resistance of the Pharisees and the Athenians to accept him as Lord and Savior). This is even more true for us living today, some of who doubt Jesus’ very existence. Beyond the mere facts of the gospel, we must also have assurance that our sins are forgiven. Again, this was a difficult concept for those of the ancient Near East to rest in and more so for us today.

Without a clear revelation of how God is acting in history and in our individual lives, we cannot be saved. We need Scripture to flesh out what creation has taught us: that God exists and loves us. Without that explanation, we cannot be saved by mere natural revelation.

My New Year’s resolution (that one I hope to keep)

December 30, 2008

As I was cruising the Internet today, I stumbled upon Newsweek’s 50 Most Powerful People for 2009 and the Lord laid upon my heart that I (and I hope you too) should pray for these leaders in world society. I Timothy 2:1-4 invokes us to pray for “all those in authority”. So I took some time and organized the list so that each person is prayed for 3 times (there are three exceptions, for which a general prayer request is replaced when a person would be prayed for twice in the same week).

Feel free to copy and re-post this as I want as many people as possible to be anointing these people. I am planning to pray for one person from the list each week as my Sunday School class’s focus, one for my on-campus prayer group’s focus, and one for my personal focus for any moments of “redeeming the time”. I also encourage you to write each person during that week and tell them that you have prayed for them.

This is a resolution for the year, with benefits in eternity!

Prayer list of 2009 50 most powerful people:
(Newsweek, http://www.newsweek.com, 12/20/2008, for issue dated 1/5/2009)

1/4/2009 Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
Barack Obama (USA)
E. A. Adeboye (Nigeria-leader of Redeemed Christian Church of God)

1/11/2009 Amr Khaled (UK-Muslim televangelist)
Hu Jintao (China)
Nuri al-Maliki (Iraq)

1/18/2009 Angela Merkel (Germany)
Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (UAE)
Nicolas Sarkozy (France)

1/25/2009 Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
Ben Bernanke (USA)
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Pakistan)

2/1/2009 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran)
David Axelrod (USA-senior adviser)
Jean-Claude Trichet (EU Central Bank)

2/8/2009 Barack Obama (USA)
Masaaki Shirakawa (Bank of Japan)
Pope Benedict XVI (Vatican)

2/15/2009 Ben Bernanke (USA)
Gordon Brown (UK)
that greed and vice will not overwhelm the souls of America

2/22/2009 Angela Merkel (Germany)
Jeff Bezos (USA-Amazon.com)
Pope Benedict XVI (Vatican)

3/1/2009 Bill Clinton (USA)
Michael Bloomberg (USA-NYC mayor)
Vladimir Putin (Russia)

3/8/2009 Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (Saudi Arabia)
Bill Gates (USA)
Gordon Brown (UK)

3/15/2009 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran)
Carlos Slim Helú (Mexico)
Warren Buffett (USA)

3/22/2009 Dr. Margaret Chan (WHO)
Kim Jong Il (North Korea)
The Dalai Lama (India)

3/29/2009 David Axelrod (USA-senior adviser)
Hillary Clinton (USA)
The state of the Union

4/5/2009 Bill Clinton (USA)
Gen. David Petraeus (USA)
The Holy Spirit to convict all men of sin

4/12/2009 EASTER

4/19/2009 Dominique Strauss-Kahn (IMF)
The Dalai Lama (India)
Timothy Geithner (USA-Treasury)

4/26/2009 E. A. Adeboye (Nigeria-leader of Redeemed Christian Church of God)
Gen. David Petraeus (USA)
Jamie Dimon (USA-JPMorgan Chase)

5/3/2009 Eric Schmidt (USA-Google)
Mike Duke (USA-WalMart)
Sonia Gandhi (India)

5/10/2009 Gordon Brown (UK)
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil)
Rahm Emanuel (USA)

5/17/2009 Hassan Nasrallah (Lebanon-Hezbollah)
Sonia Gandhi (India)
Warren Buffett (USA)

5/24/2009 Bill Gates (USA)
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Pakistan)
Hillary Clinton (USA)

5/31/2009 Hu Jintao (China)
Melinda Gates (USA)
Nuri al-Maliki (Iraq)

6/7/2009 Bill Gates (USA)
Jamie Dimon (USA-JPMorgan Chase)
Timothy Geithner (USA-Treasury)

6/14/2009 Carlos Slim Helú (Mexico)
Jean-Claude Trichet (EU Central Bank)
Melinda Gates (USA)

6/21/2009 Jeff Bezos (USA-Amazon.com)
Nancy Pelosi (USA)
Valerie Jarrett (USA-senior adviser)

6/28/2009 Hu Jintao (China)
Jim Rogers (USA-Duke Energy)
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (UAE)

7/5/2009 John Lasseter (USA-Pixar)
Mike Duke (USA-WalMart)
Steve Jobs (USA-Apple)

7/12/2009 Katsuaki Watanabe (Japan-Toyota)
Kim Jong Il (North Korea)
Rahm Emanuel (USA)

7/19/2009 Eric Schmidt (USA-Google)
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (Pakistan)
Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (UAE)

7/26/2009 Amr Khaled (UK-Muslim televangelist)
Jamie Dimon (USA-JPMorgan Chase)
Kim Jong Il (North Korea)

8/2/2009 Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Iran)
David Axelrod (USA-senior adviser)
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil)

8/9/2009 Dr. Margaret Chan (WHO)
Shahrukh Khan (Bollywood star)
Valerie Jarrett (USA-senior adviser)

8/16/2009 Dominique Strauss-Kahn (IMF)
Masaaki Shirakawa (Bank of Japan)
Osama bin Laden (Afghanistan?-Al-Qaida)

8/23/2009 John Lasseter (USA-Pixar)
Melinda Gates (USA)
Rex Tillerson (USA-ExxonMobil)

8/30/2009 Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Brazil)
Michael Bloomberg (USA-NYC mayor)
Steve Jobs (USA-Apple)

9/6/2009 Angela Merkel (Germany)
John Lasseter (USA-Pixar)
Mike Duke (USA-WalMart)

9/13/2009 Michael Bloomberg (USA-NYC mayor)
Nancy Pelosi (USA)
Rupert Murdoch (Australia-NewsCorp)

9/20/2009 Hassan Nasrallah (Lebanon-Hezbollah)
Nicolas Sarkozy (France)
Pope Benedict XVI (Vatican)

9/27/2009 Barack Obama (USA)
Katsuaki Watanabe (Japan-Toyota)
Nuri al-Maliki (Iraq)

10/4/2009 Nancy Pelosi (USA)
Oprah Winfrey (USA)
Rupert Murdoch (Australia-NewsCorp)

10/11/2009 Gen. David Petraeus (USA)
Jeff Bezos (USA-Amazon.com)
Osama bin Laden (Afghanistan?-Al-Qaida)

10/18/2009 Rahm Emanuel (USA)
Shahrukh Khan (Bollywood star)
Vladimir Putin (Russia)

10/25/2009 Jim Rogers (USA-Duke Energy)
Osama bin Laden (Afghanistan?-Al-Qaida)
Rex Tillerson (USA-ExxonMobil)

11/1/2009 Hassan Nasrallah (Lebanon-Hezbollah)
Nicolas Sarkozy (France)
Rupert Murdoch (Australia-NewsCorp)

11/8/2009 Dr. Margaret Chan (WHO)
Eric Schmidt (USA-Google)
Shahrukh Khan (Bollywood star)

11/15/2009 Carlos Slim Helú (Mexico)
Masaaki Shirakawa (Bank of Japan)
Sonia Gandhi (India)

11/22/2009 Dominique Strauss-Kahn (IMF)
Steve Jobs (USA-Apple)
The Dalai Lama (India)

11/29/2009 Oprah Winfrey (USA)
Rex Tillerson (USA-ExxonMobil)
Timothy Geithner (USA-Treasury)

12/6/2009 Amr Khaled (UK-Muslim televangelist)
Jean-Claude Trichet (EU Central Bank)
Valerie Jarrett (USA-senior adviser)

12/13/2009 E. A. Adeboye (Nigeria-leader of Redeemed Christian Church of God)
Katsuaki Watanabe (Japan-Toyota)
Vladimir Putin (Russia)

12/20/2009 CHRISTMAS

12/27/2009 Jim Rogers (USA-Duke Energy)
Oprah Winfrey (USA)
Warren Buffett (USA)

The denominational stool revisited…part 3: evangelism

June 25, 2008

First off, please forgive the long delay in writing….got caught up in SBC/Indy mode….stories to follow!

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Many would think that the Southern Baptist Convention does not have a problem with evangelistic emphasis…but we do.

We can measure evangelistic effectiveness (yes, I know the Spirit moves, but we in the SBC still obsess about the numbers….) in two ways: as compared with primary worship attendance and as compared with resident membership. By the way, only 71% of church members are resident members and only 33.7% of church members are primary worship attenders…thus the growing demand for more accurate membership counts

PWA has only been collected since 1991 (thanks LifeWay Research for the data!). So in 1991, there was one baptism for every 11.55 primary worship attenders (think regular pew-fillers)…by 2007, it increases to one baptism to 17.77 attenders! That’s an average increase of 1 attender every THREE YEARS!

Resident membership was collected from 1950 (as far as I know!) to 2005…which means we can look at the decade averages! All of you statistical freaks like me can now rejoice! For the unintiated, the t-test number is the probability that the two neighboring averages from the same distribution of values…so the lower, the better! Anything above 0.05 means they are not significantly different.

Average Resident Members per Baptism (t-test with next group)

1950’s: 15.21 (1.65E-07)

1960’s: 20.69 (0.018 )

1970’s: 23.49 (0.007 )

1980’s: 27.34 (0.522)

1990’s: 28.02 (0.294)

2000’s: 28.86

pre-1980: 19.80 (4.04E-10)

1980-1994: 27.88 (0.821)

post-1994: 28.06

post-1979 : 27.95 (1.21E-12 w/ pre-1980)

Summary: The number of resident members per baptism has increased significantly, from 13.89 in 1950 to 30.51 in 2005, an average increase of 1 resident member every three years. But more specifically, the increases occurred before 1979…yeah, something that can’t be blamed on the Conservative Resurgence! Yet the flip side is that our efforts for doctrinal orthodoxy have done nothing to reverse the trend, since the number has only stabilized since then.

Let’s cut to the chase: we need to stem the flow…we need to DECREASE by 1 primary worship attender or resident member every three years…hey, let’s try every year! And for that to happen, we need some leadership…which I hope we will find in Johnny Hunt. He had the second highest baptism percentage (baptisms per PW attender) of the 2008 candidates. His 7.5% is DOUBLE the average of SBC churches! We have had the vigor of Bobby Welch…which didn’t motivate us. We had the irenic “blip” of Frank Page…which made us feel good, but didn’t kick us in the butt. Perhaps two years of Hunt will tip the trustee boards in favor of evangelistically minded representatives, that with God’s help might set the example we need in all our struggling churches and associations.

Personal note: Please pray for a revival series I am helping to co-ordinate. It will occur this October in the association(s) in my state with the lowest average baptisms. May others catch this vision to help one another bring in the harvest and may God bless our efforts and open eyes, ears, and hearts to the Gospel we bring!