NASHVILLE (BP) – As followers of Christ, it is our directive to make disciples of all nations. Vision 2025 renews our call as Southern Baptists to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation.
This is our opportunity for our generation of Baptists to stand tall together with a passionate vision, and it begins now. There are five strategic actions for us to join in to fulfill this Great Commission vision.
Five Strategic Actions
Strategic Action #1: Increase full-time, fully funded missionaries by a net gain of 500, giving us 4,200 full-time, fully funded missionaries through the International Mission Board.
In Pastor David Brady’s newest book, One Sacred Effort, he writes that in the 175-year history of the International Mission Board, the SBC has sent more than 25,000 missionaries overseas. God has built the largest overseas missions sending agency through our churches. The book notes that thousands upon thousands of missionaries have lived and many have died going to the nations, but as IMB President Paul Chitwood writes in the book’s foreword: “The lasting fruit of their investment is visible today in no less than 140 Baptist conventions and unions around the globe, many sending missionaries to other nations.”
We can accomplish this vision together. We can see a net gain of 500 missionaries by the end of 2025 – if we pray, if we work, if we go, if we call out the called, if we send, if we give and if we cooperate together for this greater cause.
Strategic Action #2: Add 5,000 new SBC congregations to our Southern Baptist family, giving us more than 50,000 SBC congregations.
America needs more new churches, and we need more existing churches to be revitalized and to recapture a passion for evangelism and the planting of new Gospel churches.
How would this work? Annually, it would mean:
- 600 new church plants
- 200 church replants
- 100 new campuses
- 350 new church affiliations
1,250 new congregations
I believe we can see this done together. Cooperation is the way forward.
Strategic Action #3: Increase total number of workers in the field through a new emphasis on “calling out the called” and then preparing those who are called out by the Lord.
It was my young, bi-vocational pastor who placed in me that God may be calling me to ministry. I had the personal goal of becoming a head football coach, but it was his passionate calling out the called regularly in that small church that resulted in my responding to God’s call to enter the ministry of the Gospel of Christ.
I believe in calling out the called. In my pastoral ministry, I regularly issued the call for people to surrender their lives to the ministry of the Gospel. I believe that pastors and churches of all sizes, universities, seminaries, conferences and conventions should regularly call out the called to go to the nations in Gospel ministry. Then, we prepare and equip them for the call God has placed on their lives. People need Jesus and people need Jesus now.
Strategic Action #4: Turn around our ongoing decline in reaching, baptizing, and discipling 12- to 17-year-olds.
I am consumed with the vision of seeing this turnaround occur between now and the end of 2025. Today, our convention of churches is baptizing 38 percent fewer teenagers than we baptized in the year 2000. Don’t believe me? Each pastor and church can see from their own records or Annual Church Profile from 2010 to now, and track it year by year. The vast majority will discover their church is tracking downward in reaching and baptizing teenagers.
The reality is this: You cannot baptize those you do not reach. You cannot disciple those you do not reach. The order is clear: We must reach, baptize and disciple teenagers.
We cannot accept this dismal reality and ignore this great need. This generation of teenagers needs Jesus more than any generation before them. We must turn the brightest spotlight possible upon this cause by challenging and equipping our churches to see this turnaround occur.
In partnership with our Vision 2025 efforts, the North American Mission Board is investing an additional $5 million over the next four years to support student evangelism efforts across North America. A portion of these funds will be sent to state conventions to use in more localized student evangelism events, strategies, and resources. That is how much North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell, Shane Pruitt, Johnny Hunt, and the NAMB board of trustees believe in the need to reach teenagers.
Strategic Action #5: Increase our annual giving in successive years and establish a new path of growth that will lead us to reach and surpass $500 million through the Cooperative Program to achieve these Great Commission goals.
Please read this part again: We want to see an increase in our annual giving in successive years and establish a new path of growth. We understand that we find ourselves in a different place now versus last year due to the challenges we have all experienced. Therefore, we believe that establishing a new path of growth over the next four years will help us see a turnaround in total Cooperative Program giving.
Not only have our dollar amounts in giving declined since the recession of 2008-2009, but fewer churches are giving through the Cooperative Program at a smaller overall percentage. These are statistics that highlight some areas of concern we are preparing to address, and I will be able to detail those actions soon.
Vision 2025 is for everyone
In order for us to accomplish this grand task, we must have all hands-on deck – Southern Baptist pastors and churches from the smallest membership churches to our largest membership churches. We also need the involvement of every one of our 1,100-plus Baptist associations across America.
It will also take every one of the state conventions that serve our 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico to be all in with us in order to get this job done. Plus, we must have each of our 11 national entities and our SBC Executive Committee working together daily, weekly, monthly and annually with our partners in ministry: Our churches, associations and state conventions.
For this greater cause, everyone must buy in to this vision for us to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation. This means all churches, all generations, all ethnicities, all languages. Vision 2025 is for everyone.
Now is the time to lead.