MARIETTA, GA. (BP)–In a video and letter, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention calls on church leaders and their congregations to take their missions engagement to a whole new level.
Bryant Wright, speaking and writing from a new website, pray4sbc.com, challenges Southern Baptists to rise to the challenge of taking the Gospel to people who need to hear it — close to home and around the world.
Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, was elected SBC president during the June 15-16 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
In the video, which he addresses to “pastors, staff members and key leaders in our churches,” Wright said: “There is an urgency like never before to see us take … the Good News of Jesus Christ to unreached people groups, to areas of the world where so few have the opportunity to [hear] the Good News of Christ.”
Wright notes that the pray4sbc.com website offers an opportunity to sign up for an e-mail newsletter and asks supporters to pray for the closeness of his family and his wisdom as he leads Southern Baptists to carry out the Great Commission Resurgence proposals adopted at the Orlando meeting.
He also asked for prayer that Southern Baptists would be “willing to do whatever it takes to reach more people for Christ than ever before, with a renewed passion on fulfilling Jesus’ Great Commission to His Church.”
In the letter to all Southern Baptists, Wright said he sees “great transitions ahead” for the SBC’s Executive Committee and its mission boards.
“Changes in leadership and strategy will affect the mission of Southern Baptists as a whole,” Wright said in the letter. “I ask you to pray fervently for our convention in these critical days of decision making so we align ourselves fully with the heart and mission of Jesus.”
Wright also noted “three fundamental issues at the core of my service” as SBC president:
“First, I believe the most critical issue facing Southern Baptists is whether we will return to Christ as our first love. The idols of materialism, hedonism, busyness and entertainment have a stranglehold on the American church as it has the culture,” Wright said. “Sadly, a passion to follow Jesus and spread the gospel locally and globally has waned as a result. When we return to Jesus as our first love in our pulpits and pews, we will begin to see a rekindled love for the lost and sharing the gospel with all people.
“Secondly, there is a need for a radical change in priorities in order to fulfill the Great Commission. This begins with each individual believer seeking to fulfill his role through the local church,” Wright said. “I pray that pastors and churches recognize the immense need for getting more and more Cooperative Program dollars to the unreached people groups of the world and into the under-reached areas of North America. If the status quo prevails in the areas of convention dollars, we will fall woefully short in making the most strategic investments with the vast resources God has entrusted to us. The messengers in Orlando spoke clearly in affirming the recommendations of the Great Commission Task Force and much work lies ahead in their implementation. Absolutely crucial to this is NAMB and IMB finding God’s man to lead those mission endeavors for years to come. But this does not negate what can and should be done in the areas of giving and going when it comes to our churches.
“Thirdly, churches must begin to look at global ministry differently. It is my hope that every church participate in sending its pastor and members on a mission trip annually so that each church will experience firsthand the joy and excitement of fulfilling the Great Commission,” Wright said. “I also am praying that this fall, every church will step out on faith and set its largest goal ever for the Lottie Moon offering. You may want to combine it with the Annie Armstrong offering and have one annual world missions offering like we historically do at Johnson Ferry that also includes funds for new church starts and other mission ministries we support. Ask God to do something through your church that only He can do.”
The pray4sbc.com website will offer monthly video updates and daily devotionals, as well as give people an opportunity “to enlist as part of our prayer team for the SBC,” Wright said.
“There’s much to do and much at stake,” Wright concluded. “So join me in examining how all of us can be more fruitful and faithful Kingdom witnesses in order to fulfill the greatest mission on earth.”
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.