By Meredith Flynn
Taking the gospel to the world is a critical task—one that will require Baptists to work together, reported a task force appointed by outgoing SBC President Steve Gaines. The group, named by Gaines at last year’s annual meeting, presented their report in Dallas, where it was adopted by messengers.
Before the vote, the task force concurrently submitted to messengers a list of 12 evangelism affirmations and denials, based on and supported by Scripture. The report also includes several recommendations for individuals, churches, pastors, SBC entities, and the denomination as a whole—all meant to renew evangelism.
“We wanted to take the opportunity to provide a clear set of principles in terms of things we believe Southern Baptists can heartily affirm as it comes to speaking about evangelism,” said task force chairman Adam Greenway, “and with clarity saying things we do not believe evangelism entails.
“One of the most important things we can give to our convention of churches, and to a watching world, is a clear statement about…where Southern Baptists stand on the issues related to evangelism.”
The task force, which met throughout the year to develop the report, was created to study how Baptists can be more effective in evangelism, amid continually declining baptism numbers across the SBC. Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon and a member of the task force, said the group noted the element of personal responsibility inherent in evangelism. “We need to be intentional and purposeful,”
Munton told the Illinois Baptist. “I was glad to hear our convention talking about evangelism. The evangelism task force work will be, I pray, a helpful step.”
The report, available in full at BPNews.net, alludes to differences in theology in the SBC, but also calls Baptists to unify around the Great Commission given to all Christians.
“We affirm that the Scriptures teach that gospel conversations should seek to include both clear presentations of the ‘good news’ of salvation and genuine invitations for all people to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord,” the group wrote in one of the affirmations. Following it, the group denied “that gospel conversations are merely general talk about spiritual things and that an evangelistic invitation may only be extended by a singular methodological approach.”
The task force recommended the SBC Executive Committee put a “Baptism Day” on the denominational calendar. Illinois is among the states who have celebrated a statewide baptism emphasis—more than 400 people were baptized this spring on One GRAND Sunday.
Pat Pajak, IBSA’s associate executive director of evangelism, said the report was a great reminder of Baptists’ mission to share the gospel and disciple people who come to faith in Christ.
“Anything we do that reignites a passion for evangelism is a good thing,” he said. “It’s so easy to get distracted by doing good things, busy work, administrative duties, and daily church work that we neglect the Great Commission. And, in eternity, the most important thing will not be if the newsletter was attractive, the calendar was up-to-date, the deacon meetings were on time, the piano was in tune, or the building was clean.
“What will count for all eternity is did we, as believers, share the good news of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection with others?”
– With additional reporting by Baptist Press