Key Southern Baptist Leader, James T. Draper Jr., Asks: Does Our SBC Have Anything Significant to Say to This 21st Century?

James T. Draper Jr

A good question and one worth asking: Does our SBC have anything significant to say to this 21st century? I ask the question here in response to the contemporary idea that the age of denominationalism is past.

It does us no good — and actually does us harm — to dwell on our size, numerical goals and our heritage. We can’t live in the past. Our heritage is only as meaningful as its most recent application, meaning that all we have done in reaching the nations for Christ does not guarantee us relevance in the future. Being “Great Commission People” and “People of the Book” means daily seeking opportunities to engage the world with the power of the Gospel but in humility and with a heart of service.

It is easy for us to point to all that we feel is “wrong” about the SBC. Yes, there are some things that need to be changed but mostly we need to refocus. Every individual Southern Baptist has the ability to decide whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution. The solution is found in engaging the world with the power of the Gospel in humility and service.

“What relevancy does the SBC have today?” It’s a good question and here’s my answer.

(1) The SBC foundationally has a vision for missions and evangelism. Taking the Gospel to the nations is in our DNA. Never could our denominational forefathers have predicted the geopolitical complexities of the 21st century, but the SBC is structured to literally reach the “uttermost” parts of earth.

(2) There is strength in our cooperative efforts. We can do more together than we can by ourselves. Get beyond the cliché that many people have made this statement to be and contemplate its weight.

We currently have more missionaries under appointment and more volunteers serving around the world than any other evangelical denomination. No one church, especially the smaller churches that comprise the majority in the SBC, can so completely cover the globe with resources, but together they can.

The irony is that these totals are the tip of an iceberg. There is no reason why Southern Baptists couldn’t involve thousands more missionaries and give billions of dollars to support them through the Cooperative Program and our missions offerings. We have the resources; we just have to give them.

(3) Southern Baptists have a heart for soul-winning. We take seriously God’s mandate to share the Good News of salvation. All ministries are important and have their place, but the greatest service we can provide to a lost world is personally introducing people to the Lamb who sits on the Throne. We have a long way to go to implement this vital soul-winning strategy, but it is in our hearts to do so. We just need to do it.

(4) We love the local church. We understand that simply leading others to salvation is only part of the process. Jesus created the church — His bride — to be an integral element in His relationship with us. It is through the church that we grow spiritually. From the church we are sent out, and to the church we bring the lost for refuge.

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
James T. Draper Jr.

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