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Forget seeker-sensitive churches, Lee tells Baptist evangelists

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Baptists don’t need seeker-sensitive churches but “Savior-sensitive” churches, Richard Lee told Southern Baptists attending a June 10 worship service at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Orleans.

“I’ve heard ‘seeker-sensitivism’ until I [have had it] up to here. We ought to be Savior-sensitive churches, not seeker-sensitive churches,” said Lee, founder and pastor of First Redeemer Church in Cumming, Ga. “We’ve become so indoctrinated with the philosophy of church growth in this nation that we’ve forgotten what God says, and that’s ‘preach my Word and then your church is going to grow.'”

The Sunday morning service was sponsored by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists prior to the opening of the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 12-13 annual meeting. Evangelist Keith Fordham of Fayetteville, Ga., also spoke during the service.

Lee, who formerly pastored Atlanta’s Rehoboth Baptist Church where he baptized more than 12,000 people, said winning souls is at the very core of building a church. And soul-winning will never occur without faithful proclamation by gospel-centered pastors.

“If you were to go to and look at the great soul-winning churches in America, you would find 100 percent of those preachers are preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Lee said. “When a man stands with a Bible in his hands and ‘thus sayeth the Lord’ on his lips and preaches the gospel, the lost come to Christ, wayward Christians come to repentance and the demons of hell, they shake.”

Evangelism and gospel proclamation are so crucial, Lee said, that a church is not a church if its members do not actively seek to win souls.

“Churches do not deserve to exist unless they’re winning souls to Christ,” he said. “Why? Because evangelism is the heart of what we’re about. … There is no such thing as a church that is a great church that doesn’t constantly — not every now and then — win souls.”

He attributed the SBC’s growth and effectiveness to its commitment to fulltime evangelism.

“The reason our Southern Baptist Convention is as great as it is — the greatest denomination in the history of the world — is not because of programs or politics or organizations,” Lee said. “It’s because we’ve never been intimidated and we’ve never been afraid to win people to Jesus.

“That may upset the pluralist,” he continued. “That may run against the liberal. That may go against the grain of the elitist. But friend, Southern Baptists have never let them stop us. We’ve always been and should always be first of all an organization that wins folks to Jesus Christ.”

Fordham also urged those in attendance to keep evangelism at the forefront of their ministries. “There’s not anytime that’s not the right time to talk about Jesus,” the 27-year veteran evangelist said.

When Christians finish talking and sharing the gospel, Fordham said, they should give an invitation.

“It’s our business to call people to Christ,” he said, “and do it harder than we’ve ever done it before.”

The invitation to lost and drifting souls is taught in Scripture by implication and by command, Fordham said.

“God’s church and God’s preachers are calling men to come out loud and unashamedly,” he said. “If we are not calling men to come, we are not fulfilling God’s call on our lives. The church has no business going on a sit down strike against God’s Great Commission.”

Fordham noted: “If you’ll pray and you’ll prepare and you’ll give the invitation, God will save people.”

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  • Bryan Cribb