PHOENIX (BP)–The push in 2010 for a Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention was not a push for more programs, as much as it was an ambition to recover the Gospel among Southern Baptist churches, according to several members of a panel at a Baptist21 luncheon June 14.
About 700 guests listened as Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., shared their consensus about GCR and Southern Baptist life. They joined John Piper, pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis to talk about issues of the church and the Great Commission.
To guard against “unintentional drift” into heresy, Piper said believers must be vigilant to ensure that the content of their message is correct. “Content matters more than motive,” Piper said. “That’s scary — motives can send you to hell. Not messing up the content is what really matters.”
During the luncheon, the panel discussed “The Resolve of Southern Baptists in Advancing the Glory of God.” Platt, author of a popular book, “Radical,” said he fears the content of much modern preaching encourages entanglement in materialism and misses the Gospel.
“What I want to emphasize is that it is the Gospel that drives this picture [of radical obedience],” Platt said. “I want to be zealous for the souls of the people I pastor in regards to materialism. I want them to see that their possessions and pursuit of money can be dangerous and even damning. At the same time, I don’t want to produce any guilt-induced obedience or actions.”
Akin took note of the connection between theology and missions.
“Theology and missions are interrelated. If you have a theology of the Gospel right, then you’re going to be compelled to engage in missions with that glorious message,” Akin said. “Southern Baptists, for much of our history, have been so pragmatically driven that we have been on mission without the Gospel. We need to recover the Gospel in our churches.”
Ezell, as the North American Mission Board’s new president, said Southern Baptists should not be motivated by guilt but by God’s grace. “You’re not going to get them there by guilting them,” Ezell said. “You have to take small battles one at a time to win the war.”
At Bethlehem Baptist, Piper said he has tried to diligently preach the glory of God, believing this motivation will cause people to prepare to actively help fulfill the Great Commission.
“My whole goal is to help people be blown away by the greatness of God. When people get that in their hearts, they are so ready for planting, for pushing,” Piper said. “If you come with a ‘do plan,’ they get tired really quickly, especially in a church that has, for a long time, been unfed. They need a lot of feeding.”
In a video at the luncheon, Platt talked about the 3,800 “unreached, unengaged” people groups around the world. “They’re unreached because it’s difficult to reach them. It’s not going to be easy, but the reality is, we have the resources to make the Gospel known,” he said. “The question is, do we have the resolve?
“I’m still learning how to balance the urgency of this mission with patience,” Platt said. “I tend to be consumed by the urgency of the 3,800 unreached and unengaged people groups. The Lord is a good shepherd to me, and He has been patient with me, so I need to be a good shepherd and patient with my people.”
Akin, using the illustration of a large flywheel, said the SBC “stopped rolling and we didn’t notice it. If God would be so gracious and kind to us to allow us to focus on a passion for Christ, we could indeed be a part of fulfilling the Great Commission.
“God is going to do what God is going to do,” Akin continued. “He’s going to bring the nations to Himself. We could either be sitting on the sidelines or we can have the joy of being involved.”
Lauren Crane writes for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.