The Southern Baptist Convention meets in Phoenix for the annual meeting in just a few weeks. This will mark the end of my brief service as 1st VP. While I wonder how the convention will ever make it without me in this role (I’m pretty sure no one else besides me is wondering that!) here are some of my hopes for our time together.
1. I hope there is a renewed enthusiasm for evangelism. We need to prioritize evangelism in our personal lives, our churches and our convention. Evangelism has been sort of forgotten. It has left our vocabulary. (Beware replacing the word “evangelism” with the words “church planting”. As much as we need new churches, this is only one part of the bigger work of reaching lost people and not the whole.) It has left our focus. (It is hard to stay focused on reaching lost people with so many competing interests.) It has left, I’m afraid, our psyche. (It was really at the core of our convention’s being at one time. It is in danger, I fear, of being left only in our peripheral vision.)
2. I hope there is a greater commitment to prayer. Steve Gaines has emphasized prayer, prayer, prayer. This is a reminder of our deep dependency upon God and not just programs, styles and fads. Seeking the Lord is at the core of the Christian life. Prayer is our need, our hope and the key to our power. I’m committed to a future that involves much more prayer and deepening my closeness to the Lord. I want that to be the future of our convention as well. We need God and prayer is vital to our relationship with him and our work for him.
3. I hope there is more hope. Sure, there is a plethora of difficulties in our SBC. Our culture seems to drift more rapidly towards immorality and hostility to faith. Our convention is decreasing in numbers of baptisms at an alarming rate. Our IMB has been forced to cut back missionary numbers. Our animosity towards each other (often played out in social media) is discouraging. But I have hope in more hope. God is great and his power unlimited. None of our problems is too big for him. We face nothing that a great revival can’t fix! I’m hoping for a more hopeful future for our fellowship.
And, speaking of hope, if you are in Phoenix for the convention, I hope to see you there!