Category Archives: baptist

Opportunity and the Southern Baptist Convention

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) faces some challenges. We have slowly declined in recent years. We have less members and attenders. The decline in evangelistic effectiveness is especially troubling. But there is opportunity.

Our fellowship has not always been stellar. We can be cantankerous towards each other and our disagreements are not always handled as agreeably as they should be. Sometimes we find ourselves unnecessarily snarky. But there is opportunity.

We have vacancies at the leadership of two major agencies– the International Mission Board and the Executive Committee. These are critical roles and there are no perfect people to lead them. But there is opportunity.

God provides Continue reading

The Next IMB President

The president of the International Mission Board (IMB) is, I believe, the most important post in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). With news that David Platt is stepping down, the SBC will be looking for the next person to fill that critical role. More than anything we need to pray for wisdom and to find God’s man for this time. With that said, here are my thoughts on the kind of person we need to lead us.

We need a unifier. Perhaps no agency has the potential to unite the SBC as does the IMB. The mission of reaching the world for Christ requires and ignites unity. We can unite around this mission whether young or old, traditionalist or Calvinist, Alabama or Illinois fan. (There are only 10 of us Illinois fans in the SBC but I just like to put our name in there with Bama!)

The mission is not all that unites us. We are also united by Continue reading

Heroes Remembered: John Mason Peck

Harvard University does not single out many Baptist preachers for honorary degrees.  But in 1852, they did such for a Baptist preacher and missionary named John Mason Peck. Let me tell you a little of the story of this fascinating man in the hopes that his life will inspire you to leave a similar legacy and impact.

John Mason Peck (1789-1858) lived in Connecticut and New York state in his early years. He heard the message of the gospel and was saved while young. Personal study of the bible led him to leave the Congregationalist church over the issue of infant baptism and become a Baptist– despite the arguments of his pastor, Lyman Beecher.

Peck grew deeply in his faith and felt a call to preach. Time spent with Luther Rice led him to a deep interest in missionary work “out west”. So Peck loaded Continue reading

Sharpening our Focus, Renewing our Passion

(This is an article I wrote for the Illinois Baptist.)

Sharpening our focus, renewing our passion

This past June, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines put together a task force charged with recommending how we might deal with the alarming decline in baptisms in our Convention. What a daunting task it is. Baptisms have declined precipitously for the past 17 years. We have gone from more than 400,000 baptisms per year, to less than 300,000. The needs in America are greater than ever, but our effectiveness in meeting those needs has plunged. This ought to greatly concern all of us who care about the Great Commission and this land in which we live.

The task force’s first meeting, held at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas, was both disquieting and encouraging. We stared the terrible Continue reading

#SBC17 Our Greatest Need

If programs were our greatest need, the Southern Baptist Convention (and Evangelicals as a whole) would have accomplished all the Lord asks of us long ago. Programs are fine, even good. We need the practical application of our faith. But programs and methodology are not our deepest need.

If behavioral changes were our greatest need, we might whip people into obedience and call it a day. Right behavior is good, even critical. We need to do the things God asks us to do and avoid those he tells us not to do. But this is not our deepest need.

If cultural battles were our greatest need, we could Continue reading

The Cooperative Program Rediscovered

One of the the things I want to do in my time of service with the Southern Baptist Convention is to encourage greater support for the cooperative program (CP). Oddly enough, more attention than ever has been paid to the CP through some recent dust ups with churches and the ERLC- one of our SBC agencies. Perhaps the CP is being rediscovered.

Every church in the SBC can decide how much- if any- they give to missions through the cooperative program. Every state convention can decide how much they forward on to national agencies. Every convention can debate the percentages that each agency should receive. But, I contend, the CP remains a marvel of opportunity. Here are some of the blessings of this method of mission giving.

First, the CP has been remarkably Continue reading

Encouraging Missions

I want to encourage the members and churches of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to be involved in missions. Not only do I encourage cooperative missions and support of the Cooperative Program (see my last post), I encourage every church and every member to be directly involved in missions. Here are two ways to do that.

1. Get involved by encouraging our International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Never have they needed encouragement as they do now. With hundreds of our most experienced missionaries leaving the field, those who remain need Continue reading