News Articles

Lewis: Preachers need balance for discipleship, conversion

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (BP)–After more than a decade of emphasizing conversion, Frank Lewis believes pastors need to devote more sermons to instructing these converts.
A shift to discipleship represents the next big wave in the body of Christ, said the new senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn. He addressed an audience of pastors in a workshop on preaching that disciples at a “Church Health Summit” sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s church growth division Oct. 10-11 at First Baptist Church, Bowling Green.
Formerly a preaching and worship consultant in the pastor-staff leadership department of the Baptist Sunday School Board, Lewis said more Southern Baptists need to know the essentials of their faith.
“Are any of you apprehensive about what will happen next June when we head to Salt Lake?” he asked, referring to the site of next year’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I think the Mormons are going to be well-prepared for us. A lot of people are going to come away saying, ‘They’re just like us’ because we haven’t done a good job of preparing our people.”
He indicated part of this task can be accomplished through discipling sermons. He said they show people how to grow, encourage an “Experiencing God” reality in their lives, offer a rich doctrinal foundation and give a balanced view of spiritual disciplines.
Instead of thinking every message must lead to an evangelistic invitation, he said pastors should be equally concerned with explaining the Christian life.
“I’m all for an invitation, but I think we’ve gotten trapped in a Charles Finney mode,” Lewis said, referring to the legendary 19th-century evangelist. “Think about being in a first-century mode, like the apostles, teaching people what it means to be counter-cultural.”
He also suggested pastors limit sermons to one central theme to increase their effectiveness and connect with today’s culture.
Preachers are the only people who talk in three, alliterative points, but most audiences aren’t trained to listen to sermons that way anymore, Lewis said.
Discipleship extends beyond preaching, he added, lamenting a spreading “CEO” mentality that a pastor doesn’t need to get involved in such hands-on ministry as hospital visitation.
“There is a hunger people have,” he said. “They want relationship. I think you’ll see your discipling increase if you’ll make that commitment.
“We have more mega-churches today than ever. But somewhere (the senior pastor) still has a body he ministers to so he can model shepherding.”

    About the Author

  • Ken Walker