October 30, 2002
SPRINGFIELD — With war looming and terrorism threatening the world, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) believes the church has a critical role.
"The hope of this nation is the church," said Jack Graham, in the closing sermon to the 2002 Missouri Baptist Convention.
Graham said ever since his childhood he has loved the church, but he is concerned about its condition.
"While our denomination is doing well across the board, evangelical churches are not doing well," he said, noting that 70-80 percent of churches have reached a plateau or are in decline.
But God is "able to do exceedingly abundantly all that we ask or think," Graham said as he read from Ephesians 3:20. "We cannot out-ask, out-think or out-dream God. We need to boldly believe and ask God. Let’s let God be God in us and in our churches."
Graham, pastor of the 20,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, said churches must remain focused on Jesus Christ in order to grow.
"Jesus is troubling to people, but at the same time, Jesus is the magnetic and attractive power of the church. When Jesus is in the church, He will draw people to Himself."
Christians today mistakenly think that doctrine divides people and experience unites them, Graham said.
"But doctrine unites us in Christ. You better not trust experience apart from the Word of God."
Believers can become discouraged when they look at the culture and wonder how they can impact it for the Lord. Graham reminded messengers that our vision is to see God and our mission is to share Him.
"We will win because our victory is in Jesus and victory is given to His church," he said. "Southern Baptists, may God help us to be in the middle of what God is doing in our generation."