Tuesday, April 24, 2012

And I'll Say This In New Orleans, Too

This is likely to be the shortest post yet.

If I have the chance to address the issue of the "name change controversy", there's one thing I intend to tell the convention. If I have the chance.


IF we adopt the unofficial "tag line" of "Great Commission Baptists", we'll be posing a danger to the Convention itself, and potentially most of the SBC churches.

Look at the statistics. The thing most SBC church members have in common .. probably around 70% of them .. is that they don't go to church. Hence, we are not discipling them. If we claim to be "Great Commission Baptists", we will be liars and hypocrites.

There's also the factor, much less dangerous in my mind, that another year will have gone by and we'll think we've actually accomplished something in furthering the Great Commission (by using that name).

Matthew 24:51 says of a wicked servant that, when the master returns, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Now, I don't know where that is, and I'm not saying we're wicked servants, but if we're hypocrites, that just may be what we're ordering up for the SBC

Thursday, April 19, 2012

An Awesome Move of God, Indeed

I cannot begin to remember how many times I've heard preachers speak of God "moving in an awesome way" during a worship service. Normally, it's following a service in which 1 or 2 or 3 couples have joined our church, perhaps by "transfer of letter from a sister church". Sometimes, by profession of faith, and occasionally someone by praying at the altar. Well, with my vision problems (I can't see inside their hearts), I really can't dispute that claim, but last evening, I saw a real, genuine, slam-dunk move of the Holy Spirit, right in our midst.

Every Wednesday evening at church, I meet with a small group of guys (even though ladies are welcome, too) and we study the Bible. Somewhere between four and five years ago, we'd studied the Baptist Faith & Message, at some length, and the guys wanted to continue meeting, when we'd finished. I asked what they wanted to study, and someone suggested Romans. So, we did, and we've just continued plowing on, book by book, ever since.

We have no agenda, and only two rules: we chase all rabbits & deal with all questions, and we don't have any other rules. Most weeks, it's the Spiritual highlight of my week.

Last evening, there were five of us regulars .. the guys are from 73 (me) to early 40's .. plus we were joined by one new guy. A young man named Shea. He'd come to the church with his aunt (and FBC member), and she brought him to our room and asked if he could sit in. We said "of course", and had introductions all around. Then, we launched back into the Book of Revelation .. the letter to the church at Thyatira.

Shea had said he didn't have a lot of knowledge about the Bible, but he seemed interested enough in the discussion and questions we were tossing around. About halfway through the hour, I had noted a continued "uncertainty" in what Shea was saying, so I stopped mid-sentence and asked him where he was going to spend eternity. He said he wasn't sure, so I stood up, motioned for him to come with me, and told the rest of the guys to carry on .. we'd be gone a few minutes. Then Shea and I went to the room across the hall and sat down and we talked.

I had him read Romans 10:9 & 10 and then asked him if what that verse said was necessary to be saved was true about him. I explained carefully what the words meant .. confess .. Lord .. believe .. and he said yes, it was. I then asked him what that passage then said about him. After prodding for several minutes, he finally acknowledged it said he would be saved. And I made him say it until he picked up a little enthusiasm about it, as if he finally got it.

Mario Murillo once said "I always knew it but I never realized it".

We talked about it a while. He said he'd come that night because he knew he needed to be involved in church, he needed to learn more, and he'd told his aunt that he didn't know where he'd go at church, but he was going, for sure. We also talked about the role of the Holy Spirit in "convicting the world...", being the same word "world" used in John 3:16. We talked about the fact that his desire to come and study wasn't just intellectual curiosity, but it was the Holy Spirit moving in his life.

I must say it's been quite a while since I've seen such an earnest desire to get involved & learn, and since I've seen someone with such zeal for it. Even though, as I explained, he'd dropped in partway through one of the really tough books to interpret.

When we went back to the other room, I said "So .. tell'em what you are, Shea". He said "I'm a Christian!" Somehow, somewhere, though, after he'd put his trust in Jesus years ago, somebody dropped a ball somewhere, and there'd been zero discipleship. I hope we had the privliege, last night, of setting him on that path. He did say, unsolicited, that he would be back.

 Thanks, God. I needed that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Talk About Yer Unreached People Groups.....

I think there's a group we've been missing in our efforts to make disciples.

They are probably 15 million strong, and they run the gamut of types, from those who think religion is OK and want to "identify with it", but are not interested in participating, to those who've joined for some of the same reasons one might join a country club (prestige, identification, etc). And the best part is we don't even have to travel far to visit with them.

They are already members of SBC churches. But they are simply not involved. Not involved in the work of the church, or even in attending!

Let's look at some numbers:

  • SBC Churches have, collectively, about 16 million members.
  • On any Sunday, there are about 6 million people attending SBC churches.
  • Most of the people attending SBC churches are members, but not all. In our church, around 20% are children who are not members, and then there are visitors too.
  • If the previous thought is common, there are probably 4.8 million +/- SBC members in church.
  • If our church is at all typical, I'm guessing perhaps 20% of the attenders are actually active in the operation and life of the church. Teaching, watching children, singing in the choir, leading a group, etc.
  • Since the last number I heard from SBC sources was 37% the of membership number actually attending, then I'm believing that perhaps 30% is realistic, as stated above. And is close to what our church reflects.
  • 20% of 30% is 6% of SBC members actually involved in the work of the body.
  • The Bible clearly states that 100% are gifted for said work; "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit, for the common good."

1 Corinthians 12 is abundantly clear that we're all part of the body, and that every part is needed. How in the world is it possible that something on the order of 94% of folks who have joined SBC churches on our terms, placed themselves under our churches' authority, and are now in no way involved?

Being the curmudgeonly sort that I am, I'm tempted to blame it on the obvious. People who don't sense any obligation surrounding their membership ... beyond sending money, because everybody out there knows that's all churches are interested in ..... (/sarcasm). Cheap no-obligation membership. Preaching which expects nothing of the membership. Insecurity in members' faith, leading them to believe they aren't worthy, or able, to serve the King of Kings.

I had lunch with a friend, Sam Greene, today. We prayed for our server, after asking her if we could. She was so excited that we'd done that, and was so appreciative of the prayer, and it was so doggone much fun for Sam and me, that I asked him why in the world any believer wouldn't want to do that.

He didn't know, either.

The food was great, but what went on Spiritually was even better. Much better.

Judging by all I see .. including the surprise Cher revealed when we asked if we could pray for her .. and all the numbers reflected above, I'd say the biggest unreached people group is right around us. Right here in the USA.

In our churches.

Now there may well be groups bigger than 10 or 12 million, that are unreached. But I don't know any that ought to be easier to reach.

If we are willing to admit it, and if we care enough to try.