Check out Part 1 on Word-Centered Preaching… and check out the video of the Kimyal people receiving the New Testament for the first time.
Another area in which our ministerial walk has not quite matched our conservative talk is in the area of Biblical Counseling. As a pastor, it never ceases to amaze me the way that the people in Southern Baptist (and most evangelical) congregations have the tendency to draw a radical distinction between the elements of 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” Most believe that God has given us (in the Bible) everything we need for “life” (namely eternal life), but what they don’t often see is that He has also given us everything we need for “godliness.” In other words, most of the people in our churches believe that the Bible is sufficient to save, but is somehow insufficient to sanctify. And it is at this point that we come face to face with the stark reality that the reason most of our people believe this distinction is because this is precisely what they have been trained to believe.
What else are they to conclude when every book their pastor told them to read for pre-marital and/or marital counseling talks more about principles of psychology and communication than about what the Bible says regarding marriage? What else are they to conclude when every time their pastor is posed with a difficult issue in the life of a member, his default reaction has not been to reproof or exhort that person, but to refer him/her to a “professional” so that he/she can be “diagnosed” and the appropriate prescription ascertained? What else are they to conclude when their pastor’s preaching points them to “tips” and “principles” more than to the depth of their depravity and the solution God has provided in Christ not just so that they can be justified, but also that they may be sanctified? Do we really believe that the Bible is power behind true “life-change”? Do we really believe that God’s Word alone, and not the voice of secular wisdom, brings about true “abundant life”? Do we really believe that we are what the Bible says we are, that we have what the Bible says we have, that we can do what the Bible says we can do? Do we really believe what the Bible says we should believe…really?
One final area in which there seems to be a disconnect between our words and our work in the SBC is in that of Mission. I recently heard from a young minister who attended a popular “ministry” conference that was attended by thousands from various “ministry” and “leadership” responsibilities across the nation. He told me about one of the authors/speakers who spoke there and the invaluable leadership insight he provided for his hearers: “leaders should always strive to be humble.” At first, I had to admit my relief that such a timely and appropriate word was given to such a vast audience of current/future leaders. But then, my friend informed me of the follow-up line, “Leaders should strive for humility, because humility just works.” Is this really why leaders should strive for humility? Not because the Bible says we should, but because it “just works?” We can roll our eyes. We can shake our heads. Or, we can turn right around and realize that this kind of thinking is merely the logical conclusion of what we’ve been preaching for quite some time.
When church-growth is more about method than message [Check out Scott Wilson’s Post, “The Word Grows: A New Testament Plan for Church” and “Does Inerrancy Really Matter?”]. When leadership is more about charisma than character. When results are measured more financially and fiscally than by faithfulness and fruit of the Spirit, what are we communicating? The church of the Lord Jesus is not followed by an “Inc.” The Great Commission is not merely another program or initiative to be executed and evaluated according to the principles of worldly wisdom and pragmatism. Rather the church is the Kingdom counterculture. The church is the outpost of Christ’s rule and reign. The church is the beacon by which the “manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:10). And remember, Christ has not entrusted His mission to CEO’s and Moguls, but rather He has given it to the “the things that are not” (1 Cor 1:28).
Before being delivered over for crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth” (John 17:17). The question that comes to us, as Southern Baptists in the 21st century, is this: Will we truly be a people of the Book? Will we truly be a people of the Word? Will we truly be a people of the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth? Our only answer can be…so help us God!
“This is my Bible…I am what it says I am, I have what it says I have, and I can do what it says I can do.” If you are still with me after reading these lines, you are probably either at least contemplating moving on to another post that is worth reading or you are waiting with bared teeth for me to turn the tables and rant on the theological vapidity of the popularizer of this creed. The reason you have reacted this way, if you are even remotely aware of the current climate of evangelicalism, is that you have grown to associate these words with emptiness. These words have become almost inextricably tied to a man known for lifting his Bible high and declaring its absolute authority one minute, only to turn around the next and lay it on the lectern for its pages to be rustled no more…at least until next week’s chant.
In the following, I can promise neither a blog post worth reading nor a seething rant on prosperity theology. But what I do hope to show is the way in which you and I as Southern Baptists are much closer to that Lakewood lectern than any of us would care to admit, both in word and in deed. For all of the sloganeering surrounding and flowing from the Conservative Resurgence (CR) in the Southern Baptist Convention, the result is that Southern Baptists are not, in the end, as much a “people of the book” as we might think. Of course, by listening to our rhetoric, we absolutely are. While we may not (for fear of negative association) stand up and proclaim the above cited creed, we regularly (and rightly) articulate ones just like it regarding our firm convictions on the “inerrant”, “infallible”, and “authoritative” word of God that our SBC forebears fought so hard to defend. The question we must answer, though, as we follow on the heels of these warriors is- will such rhetoric ring hollow for us? Will we as Southern Baptists in the 21st century be found equally guilty of hauling our “inspired” Bibles into pulpits, counseling offices, and board rooms, touting their sufficiency, only to turn around and “lay them on the lectern” in favor of practical tips, pop psychology, and trendy new tactics? I would suggest this is a very real danger that exists for our generation in at least three major areas.
The heart-cry of the CR was “Back To The Bible.” CR leaders rightly touted the Bible as the inspired word of God and the authoritative means by which God has revealed Himself to His people, but at some point in the journey, these phrases morphed into little more than clichéd slogans. Now, many of the same preachers who get red-faced and hyper-perspirant defending the “authority of the Bible,” are the ones who fill their ministries with endless treatments of the epistles and never find their way into Leviticus, Judges, or the Minor Prophets, except for (maybe) an occasional anecdote or illustration. After all, “aren’t we New Testament believers?” they’ll say. Now, many of the same preachers who, as young men, watched the CR unfold before their eyes and whose very ministries exist as direct beneficiaries of the CR, are turning around and saying things like, “Well, of course all Scripture is equally inspired, but I’m just not convinced that all Scripture is equally profitable” (cue “creative” and “hip” collection of quasi-biblical material strung together into a “helpful” and “inspirational” “talk” or “message”.)
Is this what our SBC forebears fought for? Is this the hill on which they deemed it worthy to die? So that their sons and grandsons could wave around a Bible and call it “inerrant” while (practically) denying its power? I somehow doubt it. As many have rightly observed- the Battle For The Bible did not begin in the 20th century and it will not be won until the kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ. In the meantime, however, we as inheritors of this faith must champion the Word in our pulpits. That means we can call our preaching “expository” all we want, but unless we are standing up week in and out actually “exposing” the text and its meaning, we will continue to create biblically anemic congregations with insatiable appetites for “lists” and “principles”, but not for Jesus. That means we can no longer begin sermon preparation in search of “preachable” points likely to garner “hoorahs” and “amens,” but must instead begin with the sacred text, which might not win us much approval or praise, but has been promised not to return void (Is 55:11).
In light of this post by Nick Moore, B21 thought it would be helpful to show a video of the Kimyal people receiving the New Testament for the first time… and to see their hunger for the Word
Part 2 will cover Word-Centered Counseling and Mission…
Baptist21 is grateful to have Pastor Johnny Hunt and Pastor Ronnie Floyd discussing the GCR at this year’s B21 Panel at the SBC. The panel will be held on the Tuesday of the SBC in the W414 room (4th floor of the convention center) immediately following the morning session. There is a $7 charge (lunch and books are included).
Register soon because spots are filling up.
Dr. Johnny Hunt
Johnny Hunt has served as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia since 1986. In addition to his role at Woodstock, he also served as President of the SBC Pastor’s conference in 1996 and is currently completing the second year of his term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Hunt holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Gardner-Webb College, a Master of Divinity degree from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as well as two honorary doctorates, one from lmmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary of Sharpsburg, Georgia, and another from Covington Theological Seminary. He is the author of Building Your Spiritual Resume: Developing A Testimony That Will Outlast You (3H Publishers, 2005), Building Your Leadership Resume: Developing The Legacy That Will Outlast You (B&H, 2009), and several others.
Even during the process of his education, Johnny’s passion has always been for the pulpit. During his time at Gardner-Webb, he was not content merely to be a student, but was also called to serve as the shepherd of Lavonia Baptist Church in Mooresboro, North Carolina. When the Lord called Johnny to seminary, again, he was not content to just sit and learn, but had to go and do. So the Lord provided him with a second pastorate at Falls Baptist Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Under his leadership, Falls Baptist Church led the state of North Carolina in Sunday School growth in 1980. Similarly, after Seminary when Johnny was called as pastor of Longleaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, Longleaf led the state of North Carolina in Baptisms in 1983, 1984, and 1985.
His intense devotion and fervor for the ministry led to Johnny being named “Ministerial Student of the Year” at Gardner-Webb in 1979 as well as the Chair of Church Growth at SEBTS being named in his honor on March 11, 1997. After serving and excelling at various churches throughout North and South Carolina during his college and seminary training, Johnny was called as pastor of FBC Woodstock, Georgia in December of 1986. The following year, Dr. Hunt baptized 318 people and admitted 268 people by letter to membership at FBC. During his tenure, the church has grown from an average of 275 in Sunday School to over 5800 today. They currently average over 7000 in weekly worship attendance.
Johnny Hunt is truly a pastor’s pastor. He has been married to Janet for 38 years; they have two daughters Deanna and Hollie and four grandchildren. Throughout his decades in ministry, he has served as a model of ministry zeal and evangelistic fervor. For this reason, there are few people more qualified to lead in the initiation of a Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2009, during the annual convention in Louisville, KY, Dr. Hunt was empowered by the convention floor to appoint a Task Force for the investigation of and recommendation toward a streamlining of the entities and organizations of the convention toward greater Kingdom effectiveness in the 21st century and beyond. We at Baptist21 are extremely grateful for Dr. Hunt’s leadership and greatly look forward to seeing his vision for a GCR materialized in Orlando on June 15-16. We could not be more excited to have Dr. Hunt joining us to bring his leadership wisdom and pastoral zeal to the B21 panel event this year. The impact Pastor Johnny has had on Baptist 21 cannot be calculated. We are eternally grateful for him.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd
Ronnie Floyd has served as a pastor for over 33 years and currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas, a position he has held since 1986. In addition to his service at Springdale, Ronnie has served as President of the SBC Pastor’s Conference in 1997, as chairman of the trustees of the Executive Committee from June 1995-June 1997 (serving on this board from 1988-1998), as well as this past year as Chairman of the SBC’s Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, appointed to this post in June 2009 by Dr. Johnny Hunt.
Dr. Floyd holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Howard Payne University as well as Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Additionally, Dr. Floyd was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Southwest Baptist University in 1990 and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004. He is the author of 19 books, including his most recent The Power of Prayer and Fasting: Revised & Expanded (B&H, 2010).
From his post in Northwest Arkansas, Ronnie has been able to develop a platform for impacting tens of thousands through his weekly preaching and teaching ministry at FBC, through his service in various denominational capacities on both state and national levels, through his widely sought after public speaking ministry, and through his hosting of a weekly luncheon called “The Summit” which impacts and equips anywhere from 400-700 business-persons per week. He also publishes a weblog at www.betweensundays.com that serves as a challenge and encouragement to both pastors and laypeople alike.
During his 23 years at FBC Springdale, the church has experienced unprecedented growth. In that time the church has expanded from 3,700 to over 19,000 members, baptized over 15,000 people, and even started an additional campus in August of 2001 called the Church at Pinnacle Hills which is currently one of the fastest growing congregations in the state of Arkansas. Currently, the ministry of FBC Springdale consists of one church in many locations, with 12 sites, two campuses, and 15 church plants being invested in and launched globally. In the fall First Baptist will begin a campus near the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
As stated on his website, however, Ronnie’s most prized accomplishments stem from his personal life. He has been married to Jeana since 1976, they have two sons, Josh (wife: Kate) and Nick (wife: Meredith) both of whom are involved in full-time Christian service, as well as four grandchildren. Our convention has been extraordinarily blessed to have the leadership of Dr. Floyd over this past year as Chairman of the GCR Task Force, and we (Baptist21) have been personally blessed to have him help support and participate in a number of our B21 events already. We are greatly looking forward to having him as part of our B21 panel event in Orlando on June 15, and even moreso to seeing the fruit of his Task Force labors advanced by our convention on June 15-16.
B21 is excited to have Jimmy Scroggins joining this year’s B21 Panel @ SBC2010 (REGISTER HERE). Jimmy Scroggins currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the Historic First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach, Florida. Under his leadership, FBCWPB has grown to become the 50th fastest-growing church in America and the Baptist Messenger has named him one of the Top-Ten “SBC Pastors to Watch in 2010.” He holds a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University (the Harvard of the South- as he would say), as well as an M.Div and a Ph.D from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Prior to his call to West Palm Beach, Scroggins served as the Dean of Boyce College (the undergraduate school of SBTS) from 2004-2008 as well as Student Minister/Teaching Pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville from 1997-2008. Prior to serving in these capacities, Jimmy also served in various ministry capacities at churches in both Kentucky and Indiana.
Jimmy’s call to ministry began with an opportunity to use his talent on the football field at one of our nation’s finest military academies- West Point. However, after a bout with cancer shortened his career in both football and the armed services, God began orchestrating circumstances in Jimmy’s life to reveal a firm call to Gospel ministry. Since that time, Jimmy’s coach/military instincts have never subsided and God has used them to create in Jimmy’s life a ministry that is marked first and foremost by its tremendous impact on the lives of young people, and particularly those of young men who are called to preach (including more than a couple B21 contributors). Under his leadership, young men have been called out and sent to preach the gospel in the Philippines, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Morocco, Cambodia, and Vietnam, as well as in numerous major cities throughout the United States. The mentoring impact that Jimmy has had on hundreds of young ministers continues even to this day from his newest post in West Palm Beach.
Jimmy is, without a doubt, one of the most dynamic and effective leaders in the SBC as well as one the B21 guy’s favorite Gospel communicators. In addition to his ministry responsibilities at the FBCWPB, Jimmy has served this past year as the First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Pastor’s Conference. Jimmy has been married to Kristen for 16 years and they are the proud parents of 8 children (6 sons and 2 daughters). We are so glad to have Dr. Scroggins joining us on the panel for the B21@SBC event. He is both a voice you need to hear and an example you need to see.
Around this time of year, there will inevitably appear a string of History Channel-type documentaries that seek to do Americans the favor of explaining why the resurrection of Jesus is not only a preposterous scientific and historical idea, but also constitutes undoubtedly the greatest religious scam of all time. Sometimes when Christians see these “studies”, our tendency is to wince in embarrassment at all of the “new scientific and/or historical data” which “proves” that Jesus could never have risen from the dead. What we often fail to recognize, though, is that no amount of “new evidence” will ever make the claim of resurrection more incredible than it already is.
It is the epitome of what C.S. Lewis calls “chronological snobbery” to assume that while “primitive” people in the first century might be easily hoodwinked by such a con, enlightened 21st century modernists have progressed to the point of knowing that the dead don’t rise again. Just so you know, this discovery doesn’t exactly qualify as a “new scientific data.” First Century Romans may not have discovered penicillin or split the atom, but one thing they knew quite well was the reality of death, and the related fact that when someone dies they typically don’t ever come back. The claim of resurrection would always have been incredible whether made in the 8,000’s BC or in the 8,000’s AD. Yet for some reason, the Apostles still had the audacity to stand up in the assembly and ask “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8). Apparently, the Apostles thought their hearers had adequate reason to believe what history records as unbelievable.
I am convinced that if we are going to persuade the watching world in 2010 to believe the truths found in Scripture, we must answer this question: “Why do they find it incredible? Why don’t they believe?” And I submit that the answer to this question is not primarily intellectual. It is no more difficult for unbelievers in 2010 to believe in resurrection than it was for first century unbelievers. They’ve heard our arguments and are still unconvinced. If we are going to reach our communities and our world with the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we have to give more than logical arguments, we must also show them what a resurrection looks like.
We must show what it looks like when an alcoholic wife-beater publicly repents and trusts Jesus for salvation. We must show what it looks like when a dually-employed single mother is rescued from her sin and poverty through the faithful and loving ministry of a local body of Christ. We must show what it looks like when a self-righteous Sunday school standout admits that he is a sinner in desperate need of the grace of Jesus and genuinely treads through the waters of baptism for the first time, despite the fact that his name has been on a membership roll practically since birth. In short, we must show living and breathing examples of those who were “dead in trespasses and sins” but were “made alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:1-5).
It’s important that we do our best to provide “evidence that demands a verdict,” because we know such evidence exists. It’s important that we put forth arguments that make logical sense to a scientifically preoccupied culture, because Christians (emphatically) have no reason to shy away from questions or objections to the faith. But what’s more important than all of these things, is that we consistently set before the skeptical world, a picture of the risen Savior in the resurrected lives of those who follow Him (Phil 3:10-11; Rom 6:4). Like the Apostles, we must illustrate our historical-factual arguments by pointing to a living and breathing resurrected body of Christ. One that is not only present at the right hand of the Father (Eph 1:20), but one that also meets together each Sunday devoting themselves to the Apostle’s teachings, fellowship, and the breaking of bread (Acts 2:42).
This is the kind of resurrection story we need to tell this Easter. A story that is historical. A story that is factual. A story that is scientific, logical, and sound. But, most importantly, it is a story that seems preposterous. A story that seems incredible. A story that seems, unbelievable, scandalous, and false. But a story we nonetheless believe because we have seen it. We saw it outside the Garden Tomb, and we see it played out before our eyes today. It’s the story that we live and love to tell, first and foremost, because we know…it’s true.
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