SPRINGFIELD – Missouri Baptists from across the state packed Crossway Baptist Church here Feb. 4-5 in a corporate declaration of their desperation for Jesus and a desire to serve Him even in their brokenness.
Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla., kicked off the event by looking at how to renew passion for sharing the gospel and brining the lost to Jesus.
“As Southern Baptists, we like to look back to the 50s when baptisms and church planting was an all time high,” he said. “We like to look back to the 70s to the Jesus Movement. Some like to look back to the 80s and 90s when Reagan was president and Adrian Rogers was one of the most influential voices in America. But things have changed. We all know it, and we all feel it.”
Scroggins suggested going to “back to the Zeroes” to recapture the zeal of the original disciples. He offered four steps taken from Acts 4: getting serious about reaching “far-from-God” people, getting serious about prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, getting serious about having gospel conversations and gospel congregations.
“If all it was going to take was for us to white-knucke it a little bit more, we would do that,” he said. “We’re bearing down, working harder and harder and getting worse results as our culture slips away. The answer is not more elbow grease. We need what Jesus said it would take to be effective witness. He said you will be my witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
“The Holy Spirit empowers us to do what Jesus would do if He was physically here,” Scroggins said. “Those guys hadn’t been to seminary, conferences, read a book, have a haze machine, or play an electric guitar, but their church went from zero to 3,000 in one day. They were common, uneducated men.”
In a second session, Scroggins demonstrated one way he works to turn everyday, ordinary conversations into gospel ones. He calls it The Three Circles. Meant to be a visual tool drawn on a scrap of paper or on the Three Circle app for smart phones, it helps illustrate how sin leads people away from God’s design for our lives toward brokenness. Repentance and belief through the gospel leads to recovery and pursuit of God’s design. (See illustration on this page).
Bill Elliff, pastor of Summit Church in Little Rock, Ark., followed up arguing that brokenness is the missing key before becoming truly useful for the Kingdom of God. He drew a parallel between Jesus’ attitude of brokenness and total surrender in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26 and modern day Christians trying to cooperate with God to create multiplying communities that spreads the Good News.
“God’s will is good, absolutely perfect and acceptable,” he said. “But we don’t really believe that, and in our pride we resist this. It’s hard to learn. God is so committed to this that He will go to any lengths to convince us that His plan for our lives, families, finances, career are better. He knows we will never go down His path and experience His fullness and be fully useful until we submit to His will, listen to Him and do exactly what He says. That’s the beginning of usefulness. The surrender of will and the unbroken parts of our lives is absolutely essential to evangelism. Brokenness is a wonderful thing.
“If we would fully cooperate with Him and become broken, I believe with all my heart you could change the state of Missouri,” Elliff said.
Anthony Allen, president of Hannibal-LaGrange University, opened the second day of the conference, challenging Missouri Baptists to take seriously “the mandate of the master to make disciples.”
“The reason we’re not reaching” young people, including some high school graduates who enter HLGU each year, is that “we’re not sharing in a compelling way that honors God and the gospel.” He noted that, during a spiritual emphasis week at HLGU last year, 70 students professed faith in Christ.
“Evangelism without disciple-making isn’t evangelism,” he added. “Disciple-making without evangelism isn’t disciple-making.”
Vernon Armitage, pastor of Briarcliff Chapel, Kansas City, emphasized the same theme: “You cannot separate evangelism and discipleship.” In fact, he urged Missouri Baptists to link all their programs to the goal of pushing people forward as followers of Christ. Church programs just become a whirlwind of activities that end up depleting energy from church members, unless they make disciples.
But, Armitage asked, “What does a disciple look like? … It means to be like Jesus. What does it mean to be like Jesus?” His answer: A disciple is like Jesus because he has a heart like Jesus’ heart. He or she thinks, speaks, listens to God the Father, and serves like Jesus.
In another message, Michael Catt, pastor of Sherwood Church, Albany, Ga., then called Missouri Baptists to recognize the spiritual famine in this nation and to address it by seeking God’s presence.
“When I seek the presence of the Lord, it brings revelation because God always brings me to His Word,” Catt said.
“We cannot continue with an