SBC: Desperate for God to move

By the time you read this I will have attended my first Great Commission Resurgence Task Force meeting. It was quite a surprise for me to have been named to the study group. I am humbled to be allowed to serve.

Recently an area pastor invited me to attend a dialogue about issues in Southern Baptist life. One of the questions asked me was “what is the GCR supposed to do?” With millions of Southern Baptists having their own opinions, it is difficult to meet all the expectations. As a good Baptist, I am simply going to offer my own thoughts.

The greatest need in our Southern Baptist Zion is revival, spiritual awakening, or a return to authentic Christianity. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. We need it. Some have wanted to quibble about statistics. To deny that churches are in decline is the quintessential ostrich approach. We have been in a free fall in reaching people for 30 years. In real dollars we have been sliding rapidly downward in support of missions. Now we have more who want to go than we can support. There is trouble in Zion. No so-called “top-down” directive is going to bring it.

Somehow we have to get desperate for the moving of the Spirit of God. This must take place in individuals’ hearts. Local churches must get honest; then get thirsty for God. Once we figure out how to see this happen we will see God’s power unleashed. People will come to Christ, lives will transform. Churches will come alive. Giving will rebound.

Prayer is a starting point but it is not a panacea. It must be a sovereign work of God. We are not going to fool him into blessing us for our own sakes. He will not be impressed with an uptick in baptisms just for the report. For my part on the GRC Task Force, I want to see an emphasis on genuine personal and congregational repentance that will at least get us into a position to have God move.

The second area of concern for me is efficiency. God has blessed the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention with a philosophy of ministry that enables us to put the money where people’s hearts are. Sending 55 percent on to the SBC with almost 75 percent of that going to two mission agencies is awesome. Of the 45 percent we retain in Texas, almost 40 percent goes to missions and evangelism. This leaves enough money to provide over 100 ministries to the churches. I believe we have a story to tell.

Old-line state conventions have traditions and constituencies that exert influence but now is the time to put the greatest cause, the Great Commission, before other worthy interests. SBC entities also can be reshaped to enable us to carry out the Great Commission mandate.

There are other minor areas that I have on my list. None of these changes will be significant unless God moves on his people. If you have a burden you want to share with me, I am open to your comments. Please sign up to pray for us at PRAY4GCR.com. Let us join our hearts to see God work again among his people.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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