Hunt tells pastors ‘there’s gold in them there pews’

LOUISVILLE– “Getting serious doesn’t mean you adopt something,” Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt told the audience gathered in Louisville, Ky., for the opening session of the annual meeting June 24. Anticipating discussion on his call for a task force to study how Southern Baptists can more effectively serve Christ through the Great Commission, Hunt asked pastors to recognize “there’s gold in them there pews,” and to gain a vision for what God’s people can do if yielded to Him.

“Talk is cheap. So we’re not here to get anything adopted,” he insisted. Instead, he said, “It’s about all of us starting with the local church, taking a look to see if we’re doing the best we’ve ever done in our lifetime to fulfill the Great Commission.”

Hunt expressed gratitude to God for “men of wisdom” who offered advice following his April 27 release of a Great Commission Resurgence document. “I take to heart so much you shared with me,” he said, referring to input from seminary presidents, the SBC Executive Committee president, state convention executive directors and leading pastors.

“When it comes right down to it, you have to get on your face before almighty God and ask, ‘What in the world am I doing in attempting to lead this convention for such a time as this? Is there an assignment from heaven that God has placed me here [for]?'” Hunt said.

With that mandate in mind, Hunt delivered an exposition of 2 Chronicles 7, weaving into the president’s address key questions pastors and laymen should ask themselves about their ministries and mission. Hunt pled for a Great Commission Resurgence that begins in the pulpits of over 43,000 local Southern Baptist churches and filters through local associations, state conventions and national entities to reach the world for Christ.

“We will have to give an account for what we have done with what God has given us,” Hunt said in laying out the challenge for each Christian, each pastor and all spiritual leaders.

Hunt began with the reminder of God’s promise to hear the prayers of believers, noted in verse 12, and appealed for perception that moves Christian believers to compassion.

“God uses external events to bring His own dear people to the point of humility and remind us that He has sovereign control over our lives,” Hunt added, citing verse 13 as an example of that possibility.

Convinced that God can use economic turmoil to get the attention of Christians, Hunt asked, “Have the financial surpluses of yesteryear caused us to act unfaithfully? Has the declining health in America become an indication that we have lost self-control and that we have been given over to greed and gluttony?”

Hunt recounted God’s provision when believers humble themselves and call upon His name. “Do we have a tender and responsive heart?”

Acknowledging that he must keep in check a God-given capacity to be quick with words, he added, “I flat need Jesus, every hour, every moment. The only thing worse than pride is being prideful, and not knowing it,” he explained.

Citing the 13-year-old who won the National Spelling Bee when given the word “Laodicean,” Hunt said much of America could not define a word drawn from the biblical context of Revelation 3:15 to describe someone who is lukewarm and indifferent. “America has not heard of the word Laodicean, but I’m afraid the church has not perceived it. There’s a vision problem.”

When asked how First Baptist Woodstock is doing, Hunt said he might be tempted to compare his church to others in the association. “That’s not the standard. How’s the SBC? Well, compared to other denominations ‘we’re rich, we have increase, we have need of nothing,'” he answered, parroting the excuse of Laodiceans cited in Revelation 3:17.<o:p

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