The Great Commission, You, and “Them”

One of the great joys I have in my role here at the seminary is to work with the leadership of the Center for Great Commission Studies. This center helps to guide our campus in both our awareness and understanding of and our participation in global missions. As a church leader you should check out their website and blog.

This week they are sponsoring our Global Missions Week which features various events and training opportunities for our students, faculty and guests. These days truly represent the ethos and mission of Southeastern! It is fun to meet missionaries from around the world and watch them interact with our campus.

One event is a pastor’s luncheon jointly sponsored by the CGCS and our Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, featuring a discussion panel with Drs. Johnny Hunt and Daniel Akin as well as presentations by the CGCS team. The theme is “The Great Commission and the Local Church.” Be sure to check out the video that will be on the center’s website. Since I am facilitating part of it, I have been thinking a lot about this topic.

We as Baptists often talk about a primary way to fulfill the mission of God and to bring Him glory is through the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Our denomination is intended to be one large Great Commission affinity network by design and purpose. It is really why the Southern Baptist Convention was created and why we should continue to exist. If each church, therefore, would engage in true Great Commission fulfillment then logically our convention should be so engaged as well. So, what are we doing? How are we doing? Why or why not are we doing?

Sometimes it seems to me that we create this nebulous “them” that somehow gets us off the hook or lessens the blow of our failed responsibilities. The denomination becomes someone other than us somehow. It is always easier to blame “them.” Sounds to me like an old story in a garden about a piece of fruit.

For the Southern Baptist Convention to be engaged fully in Great Commission fulfillment, each church must be engaged as stated above. For each church to be engaged, we need engaged leaders and members. This whole process must begin with each believer. Then it’s harder to make that a “them.” I believe that is an “us.”

So think about these questions before you try to find another “them” to blame: What does it mean to personally be engaged in Great Commission fulfillment as a church leader or member and how do I lead others to join me? How can we best lead churches who have not had a strong commitment to this type of Great Commission fulfillment to develop the necessary awareness and to actually pursue it?

And while we are at it let’s make certain we are leading our churches to fulfill the “whole” Great Commission. Christ’s mandate was not simply a call to evangelism. He also wanted us to teach them what He taught us and to lead them to identify with Him. As YOU are going, disciple. Hard to push that off on “them” isn’t it?

2015 SEND North America Conference

This week at the Center for Great Commission Studies, Mike Dodson – NAMB mobilizer at Southeastern – highlights the church planting strategy of NAMB and its upcoming SEND North America conference.

Here’s an excerpt:

Never before has the light of the gospel been so needed in North America and to the ends of the earth. Who will carry that light into the darkness? Who will boldly speak the truth? This mission is not just for a select few. The movement of God’s mission happens through everyday, ordinary lives. Join one of the largest gatherings of the Church in North America. Be part of a movement of people seeking to live out the mission of God in their everyday lives. Don’t miss the SEND North America Conference in Nashville, August 3-4, 2015. For more conference info, go here http://sendconference.com/nashville/.

Read the full post here.

 

Pastors, People, Passions, and Prayers

The following post is by Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern. 

Southeastern Seminary is committed to being a Great Commission institution. In fact, our motto is “Every classroom a Great Commission classroom.” Our focus, though, is not only on preparing international missionaries. We are just as committed to equipping leaders for the North American church. Via our academic degrees, our EQUIP training program, and our Southeastern Center for Pastoral Leadership and Preaching, we want to prepare the finest local church pastors – and it is to those current and future pastors I write this post.

Pastors, you are critical to the work of the Great Commission. Having been a church consultant for almost twenty years, I have never seen a strong Great Commission church without a pastor burdened for his neighbors and the nations. Simply stated, a DNA of brokenness over lost people usually trickles down from the top. Churches seldom weep over non-believers unless a pastor leads them there.

If your longing to get the gospel to the lost has waned, here are some simple suggestions to re-ignite your passion.

  1. Admit to God and to someone else where you are. Confession to God is the first step toward change, and accountability with others is a daily reminder of your renewed commitment.
  2. Ask someone to pray these texts for you: Ephesians 6:19-20 (that you will share the gospel boldly) and Colossians 4:3-4 (that God will open a door and help you speak the gospel clearly). If the apostle Paul needed folks to pray this way for him, surely pastors need this same support today.
  3. Study and preach on “grace.” Frankly, we often lose our passion for the Great Commission because we take grace for granted. Go back to the beginning of your spiritual journey, and let the Word magnify the grace of God again.
  4. At least once a week, take a couple of hours to see your community with God’s eyes. Drive around, praying as you go. If you see worship sites for other world faiths, grieve for those who worship false gods. Pray for the children and teens who attend schools you pass. Go to a local shopping center; sit and watch the shoppers. See them as sheep without a shepherd. Pray for them, knowing you may be the only person praying for those folks that day.
  5. At least once a week, take time to pray for an unreached people group around the world. Go to imb.org or www.joshuaproject.net, and learn about a people group. Open a map, and learn where they live. Read their story. Hear about the spiritual blindness that keeps them in darkness. Consider their final state if no one ever gets the gospel to them. To be consistent with this task, calendar it each week.
  6. Every day, make it a point to tell somebody something good about Jesus. Maybe that person is your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend. Or, perhaps it’s the convenience store employee or the bank teller. What you say may be as simple as, “I’m having a good day because Jesus loves me,” “I’m really glad to be a follower of Jesus today,” or “May I tell you how God answered my prayer?” The point is this: if you speak a good word about Jesus every day (even to believers as a starting point), telling the gospel story will become more of your DNA.

Pastor, implore God to renew your passion for Jesus. Pray fervently and work faithfully so others know Him. Your church will not catch the fire of the Great Commission unless the flame first burns in you.