SWBTS General 3

Spark needed to jolt us from beneath broom tree

February 13th, 2014 / By: Jimmy Pritchard | SBTC President / comments

Very rarely am I engaged in a conversation with a fellow pastor that the topic of spiritual awakening is not discussed. The ancient landmarks that have guided civilization are being moved. Many churches and in many cases, entire Christian denominations, are in decline. Most recognize that if skillfully constructed programs, ingenuity, creativity, technology, or talent could bring spiritual awakening, we would have experienced it long ago. Sometimes we get a bit of relief when God gives us a great Sunday, or even an extended period of blessing in our church, but a deep, abiding movement of God across our culture remains elusive. Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

We need a spark to jolt us from beneath our broom tree. I know of nothing that can excite even the most callous members of our churches more than new believers being added to the kingdom. And I know of no other way for new believers to be added apart from repentance in response to the gospel message.

While the fight for the Bible received the stack pole attention during the Conservative Resurgence, Southern Baptists’ approach to evangelism was also under attack. Moderates saw evangelism as being “the presence of Christ.” Conservatives felt that a witness was not complete without verbally sharing the gospel. Today, if we substitute “the presence of Christ” with the words “relational evangelism” we are very near the same position with the same declining results. I am all for befriending someone with the purpose of leading them to Christ, but we will never lead anyone to him without verbally sharing the gospel (see Romans 10:14-15).

There are a thousand and one things that can take our attention off intentional evangelism. Periodically we need someone or something to remove the fog and remind us that Jesus sent us just as the Father sent him. It is my hope and prayer that the upcoming Empower Conference will provide that reminder. As a result, perhaps the Lord will move us to put evangelism back on top of our to do list. And maybe, just maybe, God will give the spark to ignite spiritual awakening. May it be so.