Chapman urges prayer for 'one more soul'
Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, issued the call to prayer during the opening session of the EC's Sept. 21-22 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.
Chapman also announced to EC members his plans to retire effective Sept. 30, 2010. (See separate BP story.)
In his call to prayer for his final year as EC president, Chapman stated:
"I ask all pastors and heads of Southern Baptist organizational life to call your people together. In a spirit of worship, ask all who will to pray for one person every day until that person is saved or one of you dies. Ask them to make their pledge by coming to the altar. While they are standing and/or kneeling, ask them if they will trust God to help them witness to the saving power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified until that person is saved, rejects the Gospel outright, or one of you dies. If and when the person is saved, encourage them to obey the Lord Jesus Christ by following Him in believer's baptism.
"If you will do this several times during the coming months, those who actively witness as members of your church or organization will multiple significantly. As a result, you may see hundreds, even thousands come to Christ. It's worth a try. This would be a Great Commission resurgence.
"My prayer is that we shall give our Lord Jesus Christ all the glory, Chapman said, closing by quoting Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
In a statement issued to Baptist Press, Chapman promised a smooth transition for his successor as Executive Committee president and chief executive officer.
"I am committed to welcoming the incoming president with the same enthusiasm and encouragement that meant so much to me," Chapman said in his statement, referring to the transition facilitated by his predecessor, the late Harold Bennett, who had served as EC president for 13 years.
"Because Dr. Bennett announced his retirement well in advance, the presidential search committee had sufficient time to organize properly as well as to discuss procedures it would adopt, request nominees to be submitted to the committee, pray for God's leading, narrow the search, interview top prospects, seek the Lord's guidance in its final decision, and recommend the person they believed to be God's man for the task," Chapman said.
To members of the Executive Committee, Chapman said in his statement, "A deliberative body like the Executive Committee cannot always find total agreement. Consequently, I thank the Lord for the wonderful Christian spirit with which each member has sought to lift up Christ even in the midst of vigorous debate. You have honored Christ in your lives and in your role as SBC representatives to the Executive Committee. I praise the Lord for the privilege of working beside you as we sought to glorify His name in all things. I am especially indebted to the chairmen and officers who have given superb leadership during my tenure."
Amplifying his call to prayer, Chapman voiced a lament in his statement: "It seems as if we as Southern Baptists have lost our passion for personal evangelism."
"[T]he consistent testimony of the Book of Acts," however, is, "The power of the Gospel flowed when the lips of the evangelists moved," Chapman said. "When the tongue is silent we are no more useful to the Kingdom than a stump in the forest.
"What is God's part in the salvation of the lost? Of course, He prepares the soil of the human heart to receive the Word of God.... What is our part in salvation of the lost? To tell the Good News -- intentionally, willingly, joyfully, courageously, faithfully, obediently and, most of all, prayerfully."
Soul-winning, Chapman suggested, is "the ultimate spiritual discipline. We can pray ... and never tell. We can read the Bible ... and never tell. We can fast ... and never tell. We can give ... and never tell. We can attend ... and never tell. We can meditate ... and never tell.
"But the moment you open your mouth in witness, you are driven to pray, you are driven to know the Word more fully, you are driven to fast, you are driven to give, you are driven to attend, you are driven to meditate."
Imagine, Chapman said, if every church in the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a commitment to pray, "Just one more soul, dear Lord. Just one more soul." "We would see an increase of 45,000 baptisms next year, moving us from 341,000 to almost 400,000," Chapman said.
"Imagine if every Sunday School class adopted this prayer." If even five classes per church did so, Chapman said, "This could result in five classes per church, times 45,000 churches, equals 225,000 new souls added to the Kingdom, plus the 341,000 we baptized this year -- a record year in baptisms would be reached with little additional effort -- just one more soul per class, per church, per pastor, per Executive Committee member, per entity head."
When a person comes to faith, "pray it all over again. And again, and again, and again," Chapman said.
Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.