Evangelism & Results

Note to all my non Southern Baptist readers: please don’t let all the big words in the first sentence keep you from reading further.

Three weeks ago I spent my days at an Intentionally Evangelistic Church Strategy seminar sponsored my local Baptist Association. In it, we focused on the need for our churches to be more intentionally evangelistic. In other words, we need to learn to make whatever we do as a church be focused on sharing the message of the gospel.

This seminar obviously got me thinking about my own witnessing habits and the effectiveness of my own ministry. I used to make this comment somewhat regularly:

“I always hear about all these churches that don’t baptize anybody and I can’t even imagine that. I’ve been in ministry since 1997, in nothing but small churches, and I’ve never gone a year without someone in my youth ministry being saved.”

It’s true. I have never gone a calendar year without anyone in my youth group getting saved.

So what brought about this post. No one in my youth group has come to Christ since July 2007. I have been blessed to lead two people through the sinner’s prayer in that same period, and I am thankful to God for that privilege. However, I consider it my main calling to work toward the spiritual growth of the students in my youth ministry. (There are some students who do not know Jesus there.) You can see why this is troubling for me.

I do share the gospel regularly, I do pray regularly for my students, and I understand that being faithful with the gospel is not equal to leading others to Christ. As they say we have to love fishing, not catching. I have this fear that students (not necessarily the ones in my ministry) do not think that being a believer matters, that, since it doesn’t affect the behavior of their [Christian?] friends, it’s not important to live differently from unbelievers. Therefore the message is compromised if not completely undercut. I do know this, the best thing that ever happened to me was asking Jesus to save me from my sins and be my Lord.

I’m not really sure why I wrote this post, maybe it should be a prayer request, maybe it is just me venting, or maybe it is time for some serious questioning the of way I do things. Sometimes I post things that I should probably keep to myself.

Am I the Key Vote?

One of the major concerns we hear about in Southern Baptist life is the lack of “young leaders.”

You often read that people under age 40 feel somehow alienated by the processes of the SBC. I am under 35, and seminary educated, but I don’t feel either jaded or disenfranchised with the processes of the SBC.

I have no idea what all the commentators mean by “leader” but I’m pretty sure I don’t qualify on that front. I’m the youth minister at a small church, and I have no ambition to ever preach the convention sermon, but I do want to see the Southern Baptist Convention be the best it can be. I obviously am a blogger, (hopefully the stigma from that label is gone now) and I read a handful of SBC blogs. Some I agree with, some I don’t. I would very much like to one day earn my PhD and my readers already know I want to be a certified apologetics instructor. It would be great to have a bunch of readers on my blog, but this blog is too often about fishing to ever catch on in a big way. So, surely I am not a “leader.” All I want is to bring glory to God in whatever position He puts me. And if that means being a youth minister to 10 kids, then hopefully I can help them to grow closer to Christ and have an impact on their world.

Despite not being a “young leader” I believe I am the very person that many people are concerned about. As an under 35, seminary educated, Southern Baptist, I am interested in what happens, and deeply concerned with the baptism decline. I hope this doesn’t sound arrogant, really I just believe I fit the mold. I’m sure there are many like me.

I will be attending the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis, and I can honestly say that I do not know who I will be voting for for president. There are 6 candidates. (<update>I am only seriously considering 3 </update>of them.) I am genuinely undecided. This is your opportunity to lobby for my vote. Use the comments to convince me that your choice for SBC president is the one who will best lead the convention.

Here are some things you may want to know about me before you begin your defense. Some of this is a repeat.

  • I am a blogger
  • I read many of the SBC blogs
  • I am not a 5-point Calvinist
  • I am not afraid of the 5-pointers (i.e. I don’t believe they are going to destroy the convention)
  • I admire all of the candidates for president
  • I admire some of them more than others ;-)
  • I can see nothing but evil coming from consuming alcohol
  • I really like the BFM 2000
  • I do not think megachurch pastors as presidents are bad for the convention
  • I do not think you have a to be a megachurch pastor to be a great convention president
  • I believe the cooperative program is the best funding device ever conceived for evangelizing the world
  • I believe that almost every state convention keeps too much CP funds (I’m talking to you BSCNC)
  • I believe that money sent directly to the SBC should count as CP giving (see the above item)
  • Did I mention that I believe consuming alcohol is pretty much indefensible
  • I am very disturbed by the baptism decline
  • I believe that the baptism turnaround will happen on the church level not the convention level
  • I am concerned about regenerate church membership. We should be honest about the size of our churches and convention

Let the lobbying begin

News That Bothers Me

I saw this news story today:

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 4/23/08 -- The number of people baptized in Southern Baptist churches fell for the third straight year in 2007 to the denomination’s lowest level since 1987. Although the SBC added 473 new churches and gave more than $1.3 billion to support mission activities around the world, there’s no escaping the disappointing fact that Southern Baptists are not reaching as many people for Christ as they once did, according to Thom S. Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, which gathered the information on the denomination’s behalf…Read the rest of this press release here.

I don’t know if I have anything interesting to say on this subject and I’m sure I have nothing new to say. But I do want to get some thoughts out there. And thank you for reading.

I love the Southern Baptist Convention. I love my church. And when I see news like this I want to cry.

I know that the SBC is not equal to the church. And I know that Jesus didn't say, "Upon this rock I will build my denomination." I also know that there are many good churches of other stripes, but this feels like a kick in the teeth. I’ll restate it. The churches of the SBC baptized fewer people for the third straight year.

Without getting into why I am a Southern Baptist or analyzing lots of potential problems (others will do a great job of that), here is what I see. The tragedy is that we are officially now losing the war for souls. More church members are reaching less people. Which means, simply put, more people will die and spend forever in hell.

I also know that the problem cannot be fixed on a national level or with better leaders. Nobody could do a better job calling for revival in evangelism than Frank Page or Bobby Welch. It must be fixed by individual Christians. Take this test.

  • Do I know somebody who doesn’t know Jesus?
  • Do I know somebody who doesn’t know Jesus that I haven’t witnessed to?
  • Do I love this person?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are officially part of the reason for this news story. I have been deeply convicted lately that I don’t witness enough. And I wanted to share.

BTW: If you are reading this and don’t know Jesus please read here or here

Feel free to comment.