Spiritual growth is Chapman's prayer
"I believe that if I were praying for my convention today about any issues, they would be these," Chapman said during his report to Executive Committee members at the SBC Building in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17.
"How desperately we need God's wisdom, and wisdom comes from above," Chapman said. "Knowledge comes from around us, but wisdom comes from above. That's the reason it's possible for a man to know much but not be wise. On the other hand, there are some of the most uneducated men in the world who are very wise in the things of the Lord."
Chapman referred to Proverbs 2, which exhorts Christians to "listen closely to wisdom" and direct their hearts to understanding in order to "understand the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God."
"I pray that for our Southern Baptist Convention. I pray that for me," Chapman said. "'God, I want Your wisdom.'"
As Southern Baptists pray for wisdom from above, they should also pray for God's glory around them, he said.
"We know that His glory is so magnificent that He would not even allow Moses to look upon His face.... There was no mistaking that the glory of the Lord was present," Chapman said, noting, "How wonderful it would be if our common, everyday experience was one of just being caught up in the glory of the Lord Jesus."
Chapman also emphasized the need to pray for holiness in the lives of Southern Baptists.
"We know God wants us to be righteous, that is, to stand firm in our convictions and live according to the fruit of the Spirit of God, that we would live in such a way that others might see Christ in us, that we would be Christ-like in that which we do," Chapman said.
The culmination of having God's wisdom from above, His glory around and holiness within is to have His outward witness, Chapman said.
"That is, to know the witness of the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ, having been convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit of God and coming to that place of repentance," he said.
"I think we'd all admit that we hear less about repentance than most of us did in our early years in our Baptist churches, and we know in Chronicles the Bible tells us we're to pray and we're to repent and we're to trust God for a mighty spiritual awakening and revival," Chapman added. "In the time we're waiting for that to come, we are to know the joy of being a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ."
Despite a lack of complete obedience among believers, Chapman said he believes God is "waiting to do something inexplicable among Southern Baptists."
"For some reason I believe He hasn't taken His hand off us," he said. "'Oh, God, keep your hand on us. Don't give up on us. Help us to be faithful. Lord, give us wisdom. Grant to us Your glory. Help us to be holy before You that we may be faithful in our witness.'"
Chapman also pointed to Act 2, where he said 3,000 people received salvation after only 10 minutes of the Apostle Peter's preaching.
"Do we dare think that Acts 2 in some way could be experienced in our generation? And if we do, is it up to us?" Chapman said. "We have more manpower, we have more money, we have more of everything that it takes to change a world for Christ.
"And I pray to be a part of that. I pray for you to be a part of that. I pray for all Southern Baptists to be a part of that, and I pray that God will so mightily send His Spirit upon us that we will see a change not only in ourselves but all around us and in those who've never known Christ as personal Savior. 'Oh, God, do it!'" he said.
Also in Chapman's report:
-- He thanked Bob Rodgers and Ashley Clayton of the Executive Committee staff for leading the "It's a New Day" stewardship emphasis, which seeks to free Southern Baptists from the bondage of financial debt.
"If many of our people in our churches could be freed from debt, we believe the Cooperative Program would reach heights never, ever experienced or hardly even imagined among Southern Baptists," Chapman said.
Since the launch of It's a New Day, the Executive Committee has led four regional pastors' workshops and has scheduled 11 more through April, Chapman said, and about 700 pastors have signed up to implement the emphasis in their churches.
"I hope you'll be praying for the new emphasis that we have because I believe stewardship at its very core could really shake this convention if we got free of the bondage we have of indebtedness," Chapman said.
-- He announced the launch of a website for the Global Evangelical Relations initiative headed by Bobby Welch, who will be traveling to several continents before the end of the year to strengthen ties Southern Baptists have with likeminded believers throughout the world. The website is www.sbc.net/globalrelations.
"As you know, he has a strong work ethic, and he absolutely is on the job, either planning to go overseas, going overseas or preaching in our churches and telling our people about the Cooperative Program and about the opportunities we have to establish strong relationships with conservative evangelicals around the world," Chapman said of Welch.
-- Increasing numbers of churches, state conventions and associations are engaging in the Empowering Kingdom Growth emphasis, Chapman reported. Ken Hemphill, the national strategist, has traveled throughout the country and even overseas promoting EKG, and more people are grasping the importance of Kingdom-focused holy living, sacrificial service and global witness.
"I'm grateful to the Lord because for the first time in our Southern Baptist history, the Executive Committee has these two highly respected men who love Christ and want to see souls saved and people discipled in the Lord Jesus," Chapman said, referring to Welch and Hemphill.
"They're out there representing the Southern Baptist Convention and to some extent the Executive Committee, and it puts ambassadors out there in our churches, telling people about the work which we're trying to do as an Executive Committee and for the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention," Chapman said.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.