By J.D. Greear, Pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC
The past few years have been challenging for the Southern Baptist Convention—looking at the data, we cannot deny this. Many of our churches have seen their memberships dwindle, and more than a few are expected to close their doors in the next few years. We hear a lot about baptism numbers decreasing. And our budgeting shortfalls have led to something few of us thought we’d ever see—bringing more than 1,000 IMB personnel home from the field.
At the same time, we see a lot that encourages us. God has raised up some amazing leaders in the SBC, men and women who are working tirelessly in our churches and in our entities to press forward in mission. A new generation of Southern Baptists is showing unprecedented eagerness to love their neighbors, win them to Christ, and get the gospel to the least-reached.
There can be no doubt that the SBC experienced unusual grace with the Conservative Resurgence. Why would the Holy Spirit have done that if He were not to follow it up with a new era of effectiveness for gospel proclamation among the nations? God does what He does not to preserve institutions, but for the sake of the Great Commission. Those past graces are down payments on God’s willingness to bestow future graces.
So this is not a time to nurse our wounds or bemoan the worsening state of our society. It is a time for us to ask some tough questions.
What will it take to see these trends change? What does it mean to be a gospel people in this new, increasingly hostile era? How can we put missions back at the center of the convention? What are the biggest obstacles to the future of the SBC, and how can we address them?
These are the questions we want to tackle on this site. I’ll be hosting conversations about important topics relating to the future of the SBC—inviting multiple pastors and leaders to share their thoughts. This is not an attempt to start debate, which is why we have turned the comments off. It’s an opportunity to hear what God has laid on the hearts of many of the leaders of the SBC. Personally, I’ve been asked a boatload of these questions since being announced as a nominee for the presidency of the SBC, but I believe God speaks through the multiplicity of leaders in His church.
I pray in the coming days the articles on this site will encourage you with the ways God’s Spirit is at work throughout our convention. Times may seem dark, but if we cling to Christ I believe we are on the cusp of some exciting works of God in the SBC.
I truly believe the best days of the SBC are ahead us. That’s not rah-rah motivational blather, but a firm conviction that mighty movements of God among His people are intended to result in mighty movements to the ends of the earth. God sent us the Conservative Resurgence so that He could lead us into a Great Commission Resurgence. There are still more than 6,000 unreached people groups in the world. That means the greatest things of God are right ahead of us. It is time again to expect great things of God, and then attempt great things for God.
For the last two years, I have prayed three things for the SBC:
- That God would continue to lead us in a re-awakening to the gospel
- That He would raise up the right leaders
- That He would lead us into a new era of sacrifice, faith, and efficiency for the sake of the Great Commission
Would you join me in that?
J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC and author of Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send (2015), Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary (2011), Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart: How to Know for Sure You Are Saved (2013), and Jesus, Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You Is Better Than Jesus Beside You (2014).