FIRST-PERSON: Focus & challenge!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Southern Baptist pastors and people say they understand and appreciate the past convention battle for the Bible and the soul of the SBC, and they are glad it was won.Further, they are committed to staying vigilant on these matters.

However, they want to see these gains translated into action that unites us, challenges us, grows us, and reaches lost souls here and around the world.

These are some of the things I am hearing in the cross-country bus trip I am making to launch "The Everyone Can Kingdom Challenge for Evangelism" campaign, which has the goal of "Witness, Win and Baptize ... ONE MILLION!" by Southern Baptist churches in one year.

We are now at a time where we do not need to hear only a defense of the Word of God but we urgently must have an unprecedented dissemination of the Word.

Younger and older pastors may have some differences of opinions but they take the same perspective on many things, such as their answers to the following questions:

-- “Which pastors and people should be placed in leadership roles?”

NOT those seeking position, power, influence, prestige, BUT those demonstrating a servant lifestyle exemplified by sacrifice, soul-winning and self-denial, as well as support and involvement in SBC efforts, including Cooperative Program giving to support national and international missions and ministry.

A number of people have emphasized to me that it should not be forgotten that multiplied thousands of both young and older pastors and staff persons have remained extremely committee and active in SBC causes and efforts.

-- “Why are many becoming less and less active in SBC efforts?”

They usually are inactive because they do not find a compelling reason to be more active. They are not willing to go somewhere if it leads to nowhere.

-- “Why do they look to other networks, organizations and people outside the SBC?”

It is not always for something “new” but usually for something they believe to be challenging and worthwhile. They want a God-sized challenge that is worth the best of the rest of their lives.

-- “What is the biggest need in the SBC?”

Focus and challenge! Whether true or not, there is the feeling that too much is too fragmented and compartmentalized, with most organizations running in different directions.

A clear-cut, God-sized goal and unified effort would welcomed. The SBC must immediately achieve a unity of purpose for evangelism. If we do not, we will prove our critics in the press and elsewhere to be prophets in their prediction that our days are numbered.


Bobby Welch is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla. This column was adapted from his address to the SBC Executive Committee Sept. 21 in Nashville, Tenn.

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