ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Four challenges to support a Great Commission Resurgence among Southern Baptists were delivered during the SBC Pastors’ Conference June 14 in Orlando, Fla.
‘ON THE FRONT BURNER’
A resurgence of passion for the Great Commission will involve sacrifice, said Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., and outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention who initiated the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force at last year’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.
“When I was elected two years ago, I made the statement that I hoped that God would help me to bring us together on what we agree on,” Hunt said in Sunday evening’s opening session of the Pastors’ Conference. “And then the question was asked, ‘Don’t you think that it’s probably caused some division?’ Let me ask you a question. If we’re all talking about the Great Commission, does that sound like division to you?
“We may be coming from different angles, we may have different passions for how it’s accomplished, but I know one thing about Southern Baptists: We love the Great Commission,” Hunt said. “It’s the reason God has placed us on this planet in the first place, and He’s come to live within our hearts and given us a wonderful message to take to the nations.”
Hunt said he didn’t come to Orlando to win anything but to obey.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do to say, ‘Let’s put the Great Commission on the front burner. Let’s do whatever it takes. Let’s learn what it really means to sacrifice in our giving of our lives and the giving of our dollars — everything we can bring to the table to make Jesus Christ known in this life,'” Hunt said.
‘OFFER ALL WE HAVE TO GOD’
J.D. Greear, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., challenged pastors during the Monday morning session, saying his involvement on the GCR Task Force has had “nothing to do with saving a convention.”
“This is God’s work,” Greear said. “He’ll do it in His way, but this has to do with churches, our churches, God’s churches being as committed to the Great Commission as He is.
“Our convention is at a crisis, and like every institution, we’ve come to a point where we have to ask ourselves whether we’re more about the institution or more about the mission,” Greear added. “So here is the question we are asking: Does how we spend our money demonstrate that we really believe the Gospel?”
When 1.6 billion people in the world have never heard the name of Jesus, Greear said, many times it becomes just a number. He quoted Joseph Stalin, who said, “The death of one is a tragedy. The death of a million is just a statistic.”
“We forget that these individuals, the 1.6 billion, are people just like you and me who have the same loves and needs and hurts as you and I and for whom spending eternity in hell is every bit as tragic as it would be for you and for me. These are individuals that that number represents,” Greear said.
He referred to John 6, when Jesus tested the disciples by asking them what He should do about the 5,000 hungry men who stood before Him. Jesus knew the disciples would face hungry multitudes for the rest of their lives, Greear said, and they needed to know that Jesus was both willing and able to provide.
“We stand at a similar place now, and for the sake of the Great Commission we have to offer all we have to God — our five loaves and two fish — asking Him to do whatever He wants with that, trusting that He is more than able not only to provide for us but to feed the multitude that is in front of us and finish the Great Commission,” Greear said. “All that God needs to finish the Great Commission He has already placed in the hands of the church.”
‘DOING THE GREAT COMMISSION’
A Great Commission Resurgence is not about talking or voting but about doing the Great Commission, said Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., during the GCR challenge at Monday afternoon’s session.
Traylor recounted a conversation he had while on an airplane with a young man named Jacob, who had recently enlisted in the U.S. Army. Jacob asked Traylor about his occupation, and Traylor said, “I’m a gospel preacher.” The soldier reached into his backpack, pulled out a couple of gospel tracts his mother had given him and asked Traylor, “Can you explain [these] to me?”
“All of a sudden I was in the GCR [Great Commission resurgence],” Traylor said. “That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about talking. It’s not even about voting. It’s about doing the Great Commission.
“We need to come together as one,” said Traylor, recalling the prayer of Jesus Christ as recorded in John, chapter 17. In that prayer, Jesus prayed that God’s children would be one even as He, Jesus, and His Father are also one “so that the world may believe that you sent me,” said Traylor, reciting the prayer of Jesus.
‘WILL YOU RISE UP TOMORROW?’
In the closing session Monday evening, GCR task force chairman Ronnie Floyd hearkened back to Southern Baptist leaders of the Conservative Resurgence who “paid the price and risked it all” and “won the battle over liberalism.” While that battle was won, however, Southern Baptists today are “losing the battle over lostness,” said Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark.
Less than 24 hours away from a vote on the recommendations of his task force, Floyd said the looming vote was not about “a perfect report,” the makeup of the task force or even “saving the Southern Baptist Convention.” To the contrary, like the works of God from Exodus to the Welsh Revival of 1904, Tuesday’s vote will be about God reviving His people and them “turning the world upside down,” Floyd said.
After the vote, “the SBC will never be the same again tomorrow, regardless of what may occur. Tomorrow we will walk through a Red Sea moment,” Floyd said. Tuesday’s vote is about “restoring the local church to primacy in the life of the Southern Baptist Convention,” proclaiming the Gospel, planting churches, pushing back lostness, presenting the Gospel to every person and making disciples of all the nations,” he said.
“Tomorrow is an urgent hour. People are lost, dying and their eternal destiny is hell,” Floyd said. “Tomorrow must become a day of change and I am asking you, Southern Baptist Convention pastors, it’s time we lead the way. I’m asking you, ‘Will you rise up tomorrow?’ … Will we be the generation that will do all we can, with all we have, with all we are, to extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the glory of God to the ends of the earth …?”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly, with reporting from Erin Roach and Norman Miller.