Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines delivered a more personal presidential address than his recent predecessors, choosing to focus on prayer and the devotional life of the pastor rather than the state of nation or the declining baptism and membership numbers of the denomination.
“This past year I emphasized prayer everywhere I went; this next year I am going to emphasize soul-winning everywhere I go,” Gaines said, recounting his preaching engagements with state conventions and seminaries. Gaines said he will announce later in the SBC Annual Meeting his desire to appoint a soul-winning task force to explore ways Southern Baptist to be more effective.
LifeWay released the annual compilation of Annual Church Profiles from SBC churches last week. It showed a 4.89 % decline in baptisms and a half-percent decline in membership to 15.2 million members.
“How in the world are we going to make it?” Gaines asked, echoing pastors in need of spiritual encouragement and renewal. “We’re going to make it by doing things God’s way.”
Preaching from Acts, Gaines urged pastors to seek new strength from prayerful encounters with God. “We minister to the Lord in worship, prayer, and fasting,” he said, ticking off a three-stage process. Next, “he ministers to us through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. After we have ministered to the Lord and he has reciprocated, we are to minister to others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Gaines pointed to Paul and others in the book of Acts as examples of men whose evangelistic work flowed from their prayer life. “If you will tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love, there are (people) who want to hear it….
“Nothing, nothing, nothing can stop the gospel.”
Gaines’ sermon was less of a state-of-the-union address, and more an exhortation punctuated by prayer and worship. Gaines and his daughter led worship after the message.
As Adrian Rogers successor at Bellevue Baptist Church in metro-Memphis, Gaines is completing his first one-year term as SBC President.
— Eric Reed in Phoenix