WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Fred Luter Jr., pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, urged students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to “save the lost at any cost.”
Saving the lost at any cost means caring for the lost, being creative in evangelism methods, cooperating with each other and committing to bring the lost to Jesus Christ, Luter said during the Aug. 28 chapel service on Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
“We are living in a crisis in America,” Luter said. “As I look across our nation, we’re in one crisis after another. The abortion crisis, the homosexual crisis, the crime crisis, the peer pressure crisis, but I have come here today to let you know there is a solution to the problem that we’re facing.
“Only Jesus can change the mind of an abortionist. Only Jesus can change the lifestyle of a homosexual,” Luter proclaimed. “Only Jesus can change the desire of the drug addict. Only Jesus can change the crowd of a gang member. Only Jesus can put families back together again.”
In his introduction of the New Orleans pastor, Paige Patterson, president of the seminary and past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, declared his hope that Luter himself soon would become the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. The chapel erupted in applause and cheers.
During the SBC annual meeting in New Orleans last June, Luter became the first African American to preach the convention sermon. He was elected second vice president of the convention in 1996.
Luter began his spirited message to the students by reading Mark 2:1-5 about four men lowering a paralytic to Jesus by breaking through the roof of the house where he was preaching. “When Jesus saw their faith,” Scripture recounts, “he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven you.'”
Christians must have four characteristics if they are going to bring the lost to Jesus Christ, Luter said.
First, lost people need to know Christians care about them, just as the four men cared for the paralytic.
“They took time out of their schedule, time out of their agenda, time out of all the things and they brought this one man to Jesus Christ,” Luter said.
“Listen, the lost [people] need to know that we care about their hurts, we care about their struggles, we care about their addiction, we care about their hang-ups, we care about their dysfunction,” Luter said. “If we want to bring the lost to Jesus Christ, we gotta care about them.”
Second, Christians have to become creative in their method of evangelism.
Bringing the lost to Christ at any cost may mean using unprecedented tactics, just as the four men in Mark 2:1-5 did for the paralytic.
“Listen to me, brothers and sisters, listen to me well, the message never changes. The message should always be Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forevermore,” Luter said.
While the message never changes, the method by which the message is delivered might need to be adapted to meet the needs of a lost generation, Luter contended.
“Eighty-three percent of the youth don’t go to church. We’ve got to change our method if we’re going to reach this new generation,” he declared.
“We cannot expect to reach the CD, DVD generation with eight-track ministry. We cannot expect to reach this hip-hop, gangster rap, B.E.T., M.T.V., earring-wearin’, do-rag-wearin’, baggy pants-wearin’, tattoos all over their body, Brittney Spears, N’Sync, Christina Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, Cisco, misfit, juvenile, mystical generation with eight-track ministry!
“We’ve gotta do some crazy things to reach the lost and we’ve got to do it today! We’ve gotta be creative in our ministry,” Luter said. “We’ve gotta do something unexpected; we’ve gotta do some unusual things.”
Third, Luter pointed out how the four men had to cooperated with each other in order for the paralytic to receive healing.
“My brothers and sisters, one lesson the body of Christ needs to learn from these men is that they all cooperated with each other. They were on one mission for Jesus Christ. We’re all in this thing together. God needs every church of every size, of every race, of every color, and we’ve got to come together and bring the lost to Jesus Christ!”
Finally, Luter explained that Christians must be committed in order to reach the lost for Christ.
“Brothers and sisters, notice whose faith Jesus honored in this text. Notice whose faith got Jesus’ attention. The Bible said, ‘when Jesus saw their faith,’ the four men who cared, the four men who were creative, the four men who cooperated, and the four men who were committed.
“What about you and what about me? There are people we need to bring to Jesus Christ. Let’s make the main thing, the main thing — saving the lost at any cost.”