Mission Lab

My prayer for the SBC

May 29th, 2018 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments

My prayer for the SBC

Welcome to Texas! The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is delighted you are in Dallas. There are many things to see and do in the Metroplex. Most importantly, we need your witness as we seek to share Jesus in our area. 

This year will mark my 37th consecutive Southern Baptist Convention to attend. I was born into a Southern Baptist family. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. I was saved at home but baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I made public my call to preach in that same church. I went to a state convention college. It was there I first encountered theological liberalism. I had professors that denied the virgin birth, bodily resurrection and exclusivity of salvation in Christ. When I protested in class and on campus, I eventually was asked to leave the school. This experience burned within me a conviction about the inerrancy of the Word of God and the doctrines that flow from that belief. This gave me a few years head start on the Conservative Resurgence. 

I love Southern Baptists. I love the Southern Baptist Convention. Sure, we have a few crazy uncles. At times I’m sure some consider me one. We are like a family. The most important part about our family is what we do to further the gospel. There is no other vehicle in evangelical Christianity that has the potential to impact the world with the gospel like the SBC. Our missionary force, seminaries and other ministries are poised for action. We simply need a renewal of the Holy Spirit’s control in our lives.

Over the past few months I refrained from public remarks about the numerous opportunities and challenges we are facing. My heart is burdened. What a tragedy it would be to see the gains of the Conservative Resurgence be lost by being distracted from our main calling. The Southern Baptist Convention is at a pivotal point, yet I am optimistic because God is able. 

One of the greatest opportunities we have is to find God’s leader for the International Mission Board. In no way minimizing the importance of other ministries, the IMB is the 900-pound gorilla in SBC life. The president of the IMB can encourage churches to give through the Cooperative Program like no one else. This will enable all SBC ministries to move forward. Our Southern Baptist culture is complicated, but the leader at IMB can pull us all together for our common passion—reaching the nations. 

The CEO/President of the Executive Committee provides another opportunity to reset the SBC. As with the IMB president, the EC needs an involved Southern Baptist who can rally the churches for gospel advance. Administrative acumen coupled with a hot heart for souls requires a person with unique gifting. With the ethnic and theological diversity of our convention we need a man who can exhibit convictional compassion. It is a tall order but God has just the one we need.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees, acting on behalf of Southern Baptists with information we do not have, removed Paige Patterson as president. This provides another opportunity for all Southern Baptists in general and those of us in Texas to pray for the seminary. We must have a president who honors our deeply held conviction of inerrancy while equipping the rising generation of men and women of God who will serve our Lord Jesus. 

Within the last 12 months the two most recognized leaders of the Conservative Resurgence have been charged with serious violations of biblical conduct. My heart is broken for both men and their families. However, the cause they championed is not to be denigrated. Were there liberals in the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979? Without contradiction! Our convention is on sound footing today because of the efforts of tens of thousands of godly men and women who sacrificed to bring us back from the slippery slope of liberalism. The Baptist Faith and Message Statement 2000 is a complementarian document. Complementarianism is contrary to the mistreatment of women. Egregious violations of the dignity of women are no grounds for the abandonment of the BF&M2000. The pressure of cultural trends is evident in the SBC. We like to think of the church being a thermostat on culture but instead the church today is a thermometer reflecting the culture. The crude, caustic atmosphere of the nation’s political scene has bled over into our churches. Unless we begin to act like the people of God instead of the police for political correctness, we will continue to rip one another apart. When the trendy cause celebre takes the place of presenting the gospel to those in need of Christ, we have lost our way. Galatians 5:14b, 15, 25, says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” 

Pastor Jeremy Bradshaw, Liberty Baptist Church, Bridge City, tweeted my sentiments. Listen to this young pastor who is wise beyond his years.

“For those rooting for the Southern Baptist Convention’s demise, remember the SBC is not the erring celebrity pastor or institutional executive. The SBC is an army of yellow-hatted volunteers bringing disaster relief to a hurting community. The SBC is men and women serving as missionaries in difficult and dangerous areas out of a passion for people to know the love of Christ. The SBC is couples who have sold almost everything to move into a new city to start a church. The SBC is students in a classroom being trained to serve the local church. Most importantly, the SBC is local churches—very small to very large—who aim to be salt and light in a world full of darkness. Don’t root for its demise but pray for its revival!” 

I say, “Amen!” I pray we will join together in Dallas as one family to pray for forgiveness, the infilling of the Holy Spirit and for the lost to come to Christ.