In Case You Missed It

1) Justin Taylor offers a bio of Clementa C. Pinckney, the slain pastor of Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC. Let us pray for God’s comfort and healing for this church and city.

2) At RNS, Trevin Wax discusses the declining numbers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. What do they mean in light of other numbers and trends?

3) The editors of The Stream, a helpful new website covering theology, politics, economics, and culture, describe 11 things you won’t hear from the media about Pope Francis’s recent encyclical.

4) At First Things, Timothy George describes the gimmicks that do not fit within ministry of the gospel of God.

5) From the Baptist Press, the current and several former SBC presidents united in a joint statement on the nature of Christian marriage.


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?

The CGCS on Evangelism and Church Planting

As we do every Wednesday morning, today we highlight the work of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern. Recently, the CGCS folks published a series on evangelism and church planting. Below is an excerpt from part 4 in that series. 

If church planting is an effective method of evangelism, then we need to give attention to strengthening our church planting efforts. In 2007, the Center for Missional Research produced the “Church Plant Survivability and Health Study,” assessing the factors contributing to growth and survivability of SBC plants. One of the study’s central criteria is baptism numbers. Factors associated with higher baptisms included: conducting new member’s classes, having members sign a church covenant, and lead planters being assessed prior to planting.

Click here to read the full post.