NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist churches should establish Christian schools to develop young disciples and empower kingdom growth through education, said Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham.
Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, issued the call to plant new schools during his address to members of the SBC Executive Committee Sept. 16 in Nashville, Tenn.
“I think it’s time that Southern Baptist churches and associations and groups of churches look more seriously at establishing kingdom schools, Christian schools,” Graham said. “I think it’s time we look at not only … equipping young leaders at seminaries and colleges, but we look more seriously at starting at the earliest years, developing disciples and empowering kingdom growth through education.”
Prestonwood Christian Academy, sponsored by Graham’s church, provides a Christ-centered education for 1,064 students in lower and upper schools.
The theme of Empowering Kingdom Growth reverberated through Graham’s remarks as he called on Southern Baptists to rise up to the challenge of the unfolding SBC-wide emphasis.
“I believe that Southern Baptists are prepared and ready as never before to come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” Graham said. “At a very critical time in our nation and in our world I believe God has uniquely fitted and framed Southern Baptist churches and this fantastic organization that we call the Southern Baptist organization to take the gospel to the world until he comes.”
Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) is a new spiritual initiative approved by messengers to the 2002 SBC in St. Louis to “seek first the King and his Kingdom.”
Graham told Executive Committee members that the Kingdom of God is to be demonstrated. He outlined five points of reference including:
— The mission and the vision of the kingdom means that believers are exalting the king — the focus is upon him; our faith is in him and our future is with him.
“This is all about Jesus,” Graham said. “The longer that we live the more that we love him, and the more we love him the more we desire to serve him. The longer I live the more I learn that life isn’t about me. It’s about him. It’s about Jesus. That Jesus isn’t building my kingdom. Jesus is not building the kingdom of Southern Baptists or the kingdom of our church, but we are partners with him in building his kingdom.
“I’m so thankful that Southern Baptists are not backing up and apologizing for our king because the kingdom means that we are exalting our king,” Graham added. “It is the reign and the rule of Jesus in our lives.”
— The church is a colony of the kingdom on earth, and the church must be empowered by the Holy Spirit in equipping Christians to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“This is the genius of the Southern Baptist Convention, in my view,” Graham said. “This is why I’m a Southern Baptist because we recognize that the action of the kingdom takes place in the local ministry of New Testament churches, and that through churches united together the Southern Baptist Convention is equipped as never before to empower people in kingdom growth. We are prepared.”
— The mission of the kingdom is establishing kingdom families, Graham said, reminding EC members about the Kingdom Family Rally scheduled for the 2003 meeting of the SBC in Phoenix.
“The greatest cultural and social issue of our time in my estimation is the potential disintegration and devaluation of the family,” he said. “Therefore Southern Baptists are saying we are committed to the biblical family. This is a must do. … As the family goes so goes the church.”
— The mission of the kingdom is expanding kingdom witness.
“We’re not getting the job done as God would have us to do,” Graham said. “Our baptisms are decreasing across the board. Many of our churches are struggling to baptize. The first thing we need to do in order to get it done is to get real about where we are and to recognize where we are spiritually in our churches and why we’re not reproducing as God would desire. … We have to get real and then get radical about our mission.
“Our nation has been shocked by radicals, thugs, terrorists, murderers, extremists,” Graham added. “And in one sense our world is full of extremes, but those of us who name the name of Jesus and who are called for such a time as this, we need to get radical in our love for people. We need to get radical in forgiveness and we need to get radical in compassion and we need to get radical in the message we bring and we need to get radical about this issue of missions and evangelism, and the time to do it is now.”
— The mission of the kingdom is expanding kingdom glory because our king is coming and the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.
“Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, the model prayer, we’re praying for the second coming of Christ,” Graham said. “In these days as we look to him we find our strength and source of our lives. What’s needed today are clear heads, compassionate hands and courageous hearts as we await the arrival of our king.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: GRAHAM ENCOURAGES EKG.