ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–North American Mission Board staff drew apart for prayer, worship and teaching from retired LifeWay Christian Resources President Jimmy Draper during NAMB’s semiannual Spiritual Focus Day Jan. 7.
The event also served as a prelude to the Jan. 31 day of prayer, fasting and repentance for the Southern Baptist Convention, which will involve churches and individuals across the denomination. The emphasis was called by SBC President Johnny Hunt and has been promoted by NAMB as the convention examines how it can be more effective in fulfilling the Great Commission.
The Jan. 7 Spiritual Focus Day included guided individual prayer at stations throughout NAMB’s Atlanta-area building — prayer for the lost, churches, the work of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force and other categories — as well as time for personal confession, repentance and renewal.
NAMB has held Spiritual Focus Days since it was formed in 1997.
“All of us at various intervals in the Christian life need to be called back to the center point of our faith — why we believe what we believe,” said Richard Harris, NAMB’s interim president. “For our staff, we need to be reminded why we do what we do and why we practice what we practice.”
Draper shared basic principles for ministry, which he emphasized includes everyone at NAMB.
“Our ministry is based on the mercy we’ve received from God and should be carried out with persistence,” Draper said.
“Our ministry is certified by our holiness,” he said. “We need to be controlled by the Holy Spirit or we’ll fall to pieces in the assignment we’ve been given.”
Teaching from 1 Corinthians 4, Draper said it’s important that all believers not only resist temptation, but also renounce even considering certain activities.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re tempted to decide not to do it,” he said. “That’s the trouble with most of us. The great tragedy of conduct of Christian leaders over the past 25 years comes because when the temptation came, they entertained it.”
Draper also advised complete openness and transparency among leaders. “We’ve got to turn away from secret things,” he said.
He told how earlier in his own ministry an opponent threatened to discredit him by finding something negative in his past or personal life. He wasn’t worried.
“I said trot out the FBI. Have at it. Give it your best shot. But I can tell you, I ain’t much, but what you see is what’s always been,” he said.
Ministers also need to focus more on proclaiming the simple Gospel, Draper said, and less on trying to make it more relevant.
“We’ve got this idea that some cute, clever idea is going to do it, so we keep looking, and keep searching,” he said. “And what the world needs is a simple presentation of the Gospel. We don’t have to prop it up or help it out.
“We don’t own the Gospel,” he said. “We are just stewards.”
In additional sessions, Draper addressed the importance of servant leadership and focusing on the challenges of the present — without getting mired in baggage from the past or uncertainties of the future. He noted this is especially important for NAMB staff in a time when wholesale change in the SBC is under consideration.
“The best day NAMB has ever had is today,” Draper said. “… Don’t miss what God is doing now. You can get so wrapped up in things that may happen or things that have happened that you miss the only time that you have. You have an important assignment — to challenge us to win North America to Christ. ”
James Dotson is a writer for the North American Mission Board. For more on how churches can participate in the SBC day of prayer, fasting and repentance on Jan. 31, visit www.namb.net/dayofprayer.