(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
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 Continue reading
Perhaps the greatest danger for many Christians, churches and ministries is something other than gross immorality or theological liberalism or direct rebellion against the plans of God. Dangerous as these things are, the greatest danger for many followers of Christ is something more insidious. This danger is subtle. It is not so easily recognized. But it just as deadly. This terrible danger is apathy.
Apathy (and her cohort, procrastination) is the Continue reading
Posted in bible study, Christianity, Church, evangelism, passion, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, faith, godliness, Jesus, passionate faith, Prayer, spiritual disciplines
I like ice cream. Who doesn’t? Ice cream comes in all kinds of different flavors from vanilla to chocolate to pistachio. The basics of ice cream- dairy and sugar- remain the same whatever the flavor, but there are lots of different types.
Evangelistic methods come in different flavors. The basics of evangelism are always the same. Evangelism is the sharing of the message of the gospel with those who are lost. The message of the gospel is the same that it has been for the last two thousand years. (I Corinthians 15:1-8 provides a great summary of that message.) The necessary response to the gospel remains unchanged. We are separated from God by our sins. We need to repent of sin and place our faith in the Lord Jesus who died for our sin and rose from the dead in order to be saved. This is the basic message of evangelism.
But, like varieties of ice cream, there are varieties of ways- what we might call evangelistic methods- by which we do the work of evangelism. Let’s talk about Continue reading
Preaching is, for me, like swimming in the ocean. It is an awesome experience if you don’t die!
Nothing is more exciting and nothing is more intimidating. Preaching both charges me up and wears me down. It invigorates and it frustrates. It brings me the agony of labor and the joy of birth. It keeps me up at night and gets me up in the morning. Preaching is big and I know it.
If you are involved in preaching you know something of the dilemma we face. We are tasked with bringing God’s word to man. We are to speak sacred things to sinful listeners. This great responsibility can be a bit overwhelming. But here is what makes it even bigger. We need to preach for transformation.
Nothing is worse than boring people with the greatest news known to mankind. How terrible to think that I can make the gospel sound like average news rather than good news. How Continue reading
Posted in preaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, church, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, leadership, pastor, preaching, Religion and Spirituality
I recently gave our church ministry staff an assignment. Share the gospel with at least one person during the next week and report back. Here are some lessons we learned together.
1. We can easily be around only other believers. We work with other believers (at least we think the rest of our ministry team is saved!), serve in ministry with other believers and Continue reading
The great need of our day is for genuine revival to come to believers in our nation. I’m delighted to see Ronnie Floyd’s emphasis on revival (sometimes called a “spiritual awakening”) in my own denomination. It is desperately needed.
Revival is specifically about the revived spiritual commitment of those who know Christ as Savior and Lord. While it leads to evangelistic concern (and often an awakening among those who are not saved to their need for salvation) it is specifically about reviving those who have already been “vived”.
Here are some results that will follow a genuine revival should it come to our churches and believers.
1. A deepened love for God and the Continue reading
Posted in revival, spiritual awakening, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, discipleship, Evangelism, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, revival, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth