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North America’s ‘massive need’ prompts NAMB worker’s call for fresh thinking

KANSAS CITY, Mo.–“North America is the only continent in the world where Christianity is not growing,” said David Putman, leadership training associate with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

“How are we to respond to the massive spiritual needs of North America?” asked Putman April 11 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.

One extreme would be to ignore it by doing business as usual, Putnam said, borrowing from Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same old thing the same old way and expecting different results.”

A second response, Putnam told a chapel audience, is found in Psalm 20:7, “Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God.”

Explaining that Christians often trust in large membership rolls, leadership, agencies and institutions, he said, “If we’re ever going to experience the renewal and awakening that we need in North America it is going to be a God thing.”

Christians must recognize anew the power in the gospel, Putnam said. “I sense that it’s easy as a believer to forget that the power is in nothing else but the gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we need to remember that the power is not in the messenger.”

Preachers nevertheless should communicate “a hearable gospel,” Putnam continued, noting, “There are two kinds of fields out there, sowing fields and harvesting fields,” as reflected in Romans 10.

The challenge, he said, is that “we often assume by attitude and method that we are in harvesting fields.”

But, he said, “We must first plow, seed and water the fields before we can reasonably expect to gather a harvest.

“Unfortunately, most churches just sit back and wait for people to come play on our court,” Putnam said.

Underscoring the need to preach the gospel “in season and out of season,” Putman said, “Most of us have been trained and understand how to preach it in season; bring the flock together, bring the crowd together.”

By focusing on ministry “out of season,” however, those who are hungry for the bread of life can be helped, he said.

“Are we willing to invest ourselves and pay the price, no matter what the cost, to love lost people unconditionally?” Putman asked.

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  • Rodney E. Penn