Connecting the Dots in an Unconnected World

Friday, June 25, 2010

Defining the Great Commission

With so much discussion of a Great Commission Resurgence it would seem appropriate to define the Great Commission. I believe that some of our disagreement comes from a differing understanding of the Great Commission.

Is it simply getting the Gospel to the nations? It would seem that for some this must be the definition. The desire to funnel the overwhelming portion of our resources to International Missions would seem to indicate this. While I am for International Missions, I live in the third largest mission’s field in the world and everyday my home state of Florida continues to grow as a mission’s field, with the world literally coming to Florida.

Is it simply reinventing North American Missions? For some it would seem that redirecting resources to the underserved population centers of America is a best solution to fulfilling the Great Commission. I confess I need some defining of the word "underserved." South Florida has 10,000,000 people, most of them lost, in its three southeastern counties. Surely, we can do a better job at the task of reaching North America.

Is it simply sending missions team on mission trips? A leader in SBC life indicates his church sent missionaries on trips to 27 nations last year. What of the rest of a lost world? Might these resources have been better utilized in a cooperative support and a strategic cooperative plan to reach the world?

Is it simply winning people to Christ where we live? Surely, we need to make soul winning a lifestyle practice not a programmed event. Surely, we must win others to Christ where we live. However, there are billions of people we will never meet that Jesus has made our responsibility.

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not being critical of the potential for change being created by the GCR. However, I would attempt to call us to balance. We must do International Missions, North American Missions, (in my case) Florida Missions, and local missions. It cannot, it must not become one without the other. Baptists still do best what we do together. The task of taking the gospel to the world is not a sprint to be run to exhaustion but rather a marathon to be run with planning and prudence until Jesus comes again.

If you take examine each of the accounts of the Great Commission in the New Testament you will find that the Great Commission begins where we are and spreads to the entire world. The Great Commission begins with confronting the lost with the gospel, moves to persuading the lost to repent and receive forgiveness and salvation, continues with leading the newly saved individual to experience believer’s baptism, proceeds to teach the new believer to experience the changed life that only Christ can provide through faithful discipleship and finds culmination in the life of this new believer when the new believer begins to live the missional life. This is the work that we must take to a lost world.

The Great Commission is less about program and more about passion. It is less about structure and more about souls. It is less about power and more about people. It is less about me and more about those dying without Christ. It is less about the vehicles (structure and finance) and more about our obedience and the call of God to be light in this dark world.

While there may be differing opinions concerning what a Great Commission Resurgence will look like there can be little difference about the Great Commission.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“The task of evangelism is not complete until the one evangelized becomes and evangelist.”
~ Unknown

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Will We Have a Great Commission Resurgence?

Last Tuesday afternoon Southern Baptists voted by a margin of 3 to 1 to adopt the report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, what now? The Executive Committee and the appropriate agencies will respond and begin the process of implementing the recommendations of the task force. I find myself asking the question, will this bring about a Great Commission Resurgence?

The task force accurately diagnosed that Southern Baptists are suffering from a general apathy toward the Great Commission that is symptomatic of a greater spiritual problem, rebellion against our Savior and His command. They then prescribed an organizational and financial solution for this spiritual problem. This is akin to your physician diagnosing you with a heart problem and prescribing that you begin chemotherapy.

We can only position ourselves for a Great Commission Resurgence, when and only when, local churches call their people to revival and spiritual renewal. Can the reorganizing and restructuring of finances be used to bring about a Great Commission Resurgence? OF course these things can become tools in the grand scheme of our Southern Baptist work. However, until we lead our people to become hot-hearted soul winners and personally committed to a missional, sacrificial lifestyle we shall fall short of the task of taking the gospel to the nations.

Southern Baptists have spoken. It is time to set aside the debate and get about the business of joining hands to take the gospel to the world. A lost world is waiting to see if our deeds match our words. Let's take the gospel to a lost and hurting world.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

"There is nothing in the world or the Church — except the church's disobedience — to render the evangelization of the world in this generation an impossibility."
— Robert Speer

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Us versus "Them"

As I have followed blogs, news, etc… concerning the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Report which, will be voted on in Orlando next week, I have discovered an interesting development. It seems that at least for some this report is about “Us” versus “Them.”

I am struggling with identifying who “Us” would be and who “Them” would be. Could it be “Conservative” versus “Moderate?” I don’t know many “Moderates” in SBC life. Could it be “For” the Great Commission versus “Opposed” to the Great Commission? Every Southern Baptist I know is for the Great Commission. Is it “Coots in Suits” versus “Dudes in Jeans?” If this is the case, it is an unnecessary distinction based on how we dress. I for one am more interested in a man’s heart and character than the style of his clothing. Is it “Mega-Church” versus “Non-Mega-Church?” From the rhetoric, particularly concerning Cooperative Program giving, this may be the case.

I thank God for every “Mega-Church” in our great Southern Baptist Zion. These churches reach people with gospel. However, I am just as grateful for every “non-Mega-Church” in our convention. These churches are also faithful in preaching the gospel and reaching people for Christ. It is the nature of our process to lift up the “Mega-Church” as the ideal for our convention. “Mega-Church” pastors are elected to the “High Seats in the Synagogue” of our convention. This is not wrong, these pastors are gifted, Christ-honoring and dedicated leaders.

Likewise, there are many gifted, Christ-honoring and dedicated leaders in our “Non-Mega-Churches.” These pastors and their churches should not and must not be marginalized in this process. It will take every last one of us doing our best, to cooperate together, to win a lost and dying world.

Our enemy is Satan and sin, not the brother or sister who may disagree with us on the “how” of doing the Great Commission. Satan’s favorite device is to create division among the people of God. Whatever the outcome of our vote on the GCR report in Orlando we must not allow the enemy to divide us into an artificial division of “Us” versus “Them.”

Whatever the outcome of the vote on the GCR report, I shall leave Orlando grateful for the privilege that is mine, to be a part of the greatest missionary endeavor in the history of Christianity, the Southern Baptist Convention. I will also leave with a new resolve to do my best to win souls for my Savior.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
—David Livingstone

Friday, June 4, 2010

Great Commission Resurgence

I have read with great interest the responses to the final report of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. Surely, there are people with great passion for the Great Commission that are in favor of this report. There are also people who are equally passionate about the Great Commission that are opposed to this report. Allow me to confess that I am not a dispassionate observer in this process. I too, am passionate about the Great Commission.

There is no doubt that we must do better in fulfilling the Great Commission. Statistics tell us people are dying and going to hell at a rate of 1 person every 1 .6 seconds. All around us we see the torn, tattered lives of people living without hope. Culturally, we have raced away from God and righteousness at an amazing rate. The only answer to these crises is Jesus and it is our assignment until Jesus returns to take the message of God’s love in Christ Jesus to this world. We must approach the task of the Great Commission with a new urgency.

It is my prayer that the rhetoric dies down and that the people called Southern Baptists approach our annual convention in a way that honors our God. This is not us against them. It is all of us for the Great Commission. Every church should elect its full contingent of messengers and send them to Orlando. Every church should pray unceasingly for God’s will to be done in the life of our convention. Messengers should read the report for themselves, listen and participate in the debate as is appropriate and the vote what they believe to be God’s will. This is the Baptist way. Being for the report or opposed to it does not indicate a deeper commitment to the Great Commission it simply indicates a different understanding of how best to fulfill the Great Commission.

Simply adopting a report will not bring about a Great Commission Resurgence. New structure and rearranging funding will not (in my humble opinion) bring about a Great Commission resurgence. We will have a Great Commission Resurgence when individual Southern Baptists become concerned about the souls of their neighbors, family members, and friends. We will have a Great Commission Resurgence when autonomous churches approach the work of evangelism and missions with an urgency that is equal to the task. We will have a Great Commission Resurgence when revival breaks out in the midst of the people called Southern Baptists. The problem we face is a heart problem; it is a spiritual problem that requires repentance, revival, and recommitment among the people of God.

May we not go to Orlando and debate the Great Commission Resurgence Report with fervor and then fail to approach the task of winning the lost where we live with the same fervor. The Great Commission began in the heart of a loving God and instills itself in the hearts of people who love God. If we love God we will with urgency and with renewed commitment take the gospel to the world.

Attempting to connect the dots…

Romans 1:16

"If ye love me, keep my commandments."

"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
~ Jesus

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