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NAMB staff challenged to not waste resources; bear fruit in North America

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–One key to reaching North America for Christ is the level of commitment of North American Mission Board staff members, said John Avant, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Ga.
“You’ve got a tremendous challenge. You’ve got to lead us (Southern Baptist churches) to believe what you believe — that it is possible to accomplish the Great Commission in North America,” he said during a Sept. 15 chapel service at NAMB.
The task of leading our churches to believe the Great Commission is outlined in Isaiah 5:1-6, Avant said.
“God says first of all ‘I have invested my very self in you.’ Isaiah says there is this well-beloved vineyard and everything that could be done for it has been done,” he said. “Folks, we are that vineyard.
Adding “God has blessed us with biblical truth, evangelistic hearts, a growing denomination, resources and leadership” Avant encouraged NAMB staff not to take for granted all that God has given because “God says we must not waste his investment.”
He used the example of President Clinton’s recent troubles to illustrate the responsibility that comes with God’s blessing.
“I thought, if he is a believer, then one day he is going to have to stand before God. And God will say to him, not Mr. President, just ‘Bill, I gave you all of this and you threw it away,’” Avant said.
Just as God has invested in Bill Clinton, he has invested far more in Southern Baptists, Avant added. “What will we do, if we must stand before God one day and say, ‘We had the chance to lead a nation of churches to believe the Great Commission, and yet we bore no fruit?’ We must not let that happen.”
There is a clear choice before us, Avant said. “And you must lead us to the place where God will look at us and see not a wasted investment but the beauty born of fruit.”
It is up to the North American Mission Board to lead Southern Baptists churches first to repentance, he said. “It’s not just Bill Clinton who must repent; it is our nation that must repent. It is our thousands of churches that must repent. If we are not a repentant people, we will never be a powerful people.
Secondly, Avant said, NAMB must be prepared to lead Southern Baptist churches “out of the box” of current methods and traditions. “Often we tell God in advance how he can use us. We say, ‘God, you can use our church through this kind of structure, through this kind of giving, through this kind of music, through these kinds of traditions. God, this is who we are and You can use us with any of these things that we are, but no further,’” Avant said. “That is an affront bordering blasphemy.”
“As leaders, you’ve got to lead us to find out where we’ve missed God. Lead us to go to our churches and say it’s all right to tear down the boxes. I challenge you to lead us in the direction to let God create whole new ways of doing what he wants to do.”
The final challenge is for you to simply lead us one by one to the lost, Avant said. “I believe there is absolutely no replacement for going one by one to the lost,” he said.
“Lead us to multiply and break down the boxes and be a repentant people and we will take this nation for Jesus Christ,” Avant said. “We’re with you. We believe in you. Lead us together on mission.”

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  • Lynne Jones