Monday, February 05, 2007

Ed Stetzer on the Greatest Challenge & Greatest Opportunity for the SBC Right Now

3. What do you think is the greatest threat or challenge to the Southern Baptist Convention right now?

Our greatest threat is division and the resulting fallout. It would be a tragedy—for which we would be held accountable to God—if, after the miracle of the conservative resurgence, we ended up not being able to cooperate together.

Among my greatest concerns is the fear that many churches will decide that partnership and identification with the SBC is not worth the conflict and bickering over non-essentials. One of the most common questions I am asked when I speak at non-denominational pastor events is, “Are you still SBC?“ And it is usually a question from someone who once was SBC, and still holds the theology, but does not want to be a part of us anymore. That is a great concern for me.

We need to find a way to connect people... and it is not by shaming them or yelling at them. People will be a part of the convention when three things happen:
1. They see the SBC as one of the most efficient missions engines in the world
2. The SBC IS, and continues to be, the most efficient missions engine in the world
3. They realize that the partnership with the SBC empowers their church to fulfill its missional calling

Those of us in denominational leadership need to both “communicate the value” and “increase the value” of our partnership. Communicating the value is perhaps easier, but we also need to ask, “How can we as denominational leaders make sure every penny and every volunteer is making the most difference.” One of the things I see positive at NAMB right now is that we are in a season of hard questions—asking, “What should we be doing (and not doing) that will help our churches reach North America for Christ?”

4. What do you believe is the greatest opportunity for the Southern Baptist Convention right now?

That goes back to the first question. The greatest opportunity right now is for us to take our commitment to the fidelity of scripture and begin to apply it as missionaries in our own communities while we continue to support missionaries doing so around the world. We have the two things that make it possible—a love for the Word and a love for missions. We just need to put them together and act like biblically faithful and culturally relevant missionaries right in our own communities. With the same passion we embrace the Word, we need to engage our world.


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