Church leaders either inherently know or learn that if the Lord assigns you to an existing group of people, you must focus on transforming the culture of the people toward the passionate heart of God. This doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a huge investment of love. And past victories do not guarantee success in the future.
Great leaders – godly leaders – quickly find the confines of their prayer closets to discover the precise cultural change the Lord wants to impress on a people. Then they attempt to build a coalition of the willing to strategically move toward the vision.
Since the early days of the Southern Baptist Convention, the big vision was, “Reach the world for Christ.” Missouri Baptists’ founding fathers embraced the same vision. Implied in this biblical vision is the reality that we must share the gospel. Yes, we touch people, help people, love people, communicate with people, but it is the message of the gospel that changes people from the inside out.
“Reaching the world for Christ” is God’s purpose. His redemptive strategy is to work through His people to accomplish the vision of making disciples of all nations. There is no Plan B. When the man of God leads the people of God toward the vision of God, amazing things happen that are not explainable in human terms.
How must we respond to the work of God through us? With deep humility and gratitude that He would allow us to be part of the greatest story ever told — the message of gospel redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ronnie Floyd is new to his post as the president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. After months of fasting and praying, he is beginning to share with groups of Southern Baptists about his journey of seeking God’s heart. And now he is encouraging Southern Baptists to refocus the vision of Reaching the World for Christ.
He stated in a recent meeting, “I believe one of the greatest issues we’ve had in the last decade of Southern Baptist life is our culture; the way we talk with one another, the way we treat one another, the way we respect one another. We need to develop a deep, spiritual culture. I’m convinced that we can talk advancement and growth until we are worn out. But if the culture of who we are does not change, it will all go in vain.” Amen!
Earlier this month, Dr. Floyd spoke to a group of state executive directors about “five keys” that are vital to transforming the culture of the Southern Baptist Convention to reach the world for Christ. He placed the “five keys” on a single card to make it easy to visualize. Those “keys”* are:
Live and breathe gospel urgency. Every Southern Baptist needs to live with the passion of sharing Jesus with those who are desperately lost and without Christ. “When you get up and when you speak, there is an urgency in your soul that we can’t wait all day long to get this gospel out somewhere,” Floyd said.
Empower all churches, generations, ethnicities and languages. Every people group needs the gospel. The alternative is lostness, and lostness is not divided in its mission to kill, steal and destroy. It is a wide highway to destruction. Southern Baptists must be united in sharing the only gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, that has the power to make people whole. There must be no division in the vision of reaching all peoples.
Tell and celebrate what God is doing. People get inspired by stories. When more and more people tell the miraculous stories of transformation, more and more people want to listen. When people gripe, complain and enter into uncivil discourse on the Internet or in our local churches, distraction and division grow like an evil virus. Floyd said, “The more we tell our good stories, the less time we’ll have to tell our bad stories.”
Love others like Jesus loved. One of the most profound things Floyd said at the meeting was, “We don’t need to be in the business of choosing who we love. I want to do all I can, with all I have, to keep people within my circle of love, because that’s what Jesus would do.” Amen! Choosing to love reaches beyond emotional sentimentality. It is not always easy but it is always right — and sometimes tough. Think about that before you send an email or post a social media response or speak to someone who doesn’t meet your expectations.
Prioritize, elevate and accelerate generosity. People have always given to missions when it touches their hearts. For example, when Missouri Baptists see the work of God through the projects in the Missouri Missions Offering, they want to give. When people capture the vision of the comprehensive mission engagement that occurs through the Cooperative Program, they want to give, through their church, a generous percent to the international and national missions and ministries of the MBC and the SBC. The more you see the vision of what God does in changing lives through your giving, you want to accelerate your capacity to trust God’s sufficiency.
Vision: Reach the world for Christ. Is it just possible that the times are ripe for a Spirit-filled, prayer-motivated, gospel-centered movement to reach the masses who have not heard? In the middle of their brokenness, people know that something beyond themselves is needed.
The gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope. Share His joy with somebody today.
*”Five keys” adapted from an article by Diana Chandler, “Floyd dialogues with Convention Advancement Groups,” Baptist Press, August 6, 2019.