ORLANDO, Fla.—The Great Commission Resurgence is a “natural and spiritual outgrowth of the conservative resurgence,” seminary president Danny Akin told participants in the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference, July 13-14.
Akin, a member of the Great Commission Resurgence task force and president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., was one of several speakers who either explicitly endorsed the recommendations of the task force or more subtly underscored its importance.
Pastors Conference President Kevin Ezell introduced members of the task force, and its chairman, Ronnie Floyd, pleaded with pastors to support its recommendations. While this was the most overt promotion for the proposals, each session featured a “GCR Challenge” brought by a task force member.
“The conservative resurgence was never just about affirming an inerrant Bible. It was also about getting an inerrant gospel to the nations so that they might be saved,” Akin said.
Preaching from Hebrews 12, he outlined the elements needed and those that need to be discarded to run the Christian race well, whether as individuals, churches or denominations.
“We must guide our people to run in faith unhindered the race God has been put before us,” he said. To run with endurance means staying focused on Jesus, Akin said. Staying focused only on the essentials means “getting rid of any excess baggage, any thing that can weigh you down, even in the denomination.”
“Pride can become a weight about what we’ve done in the past and who we think we are today,” Akin said. “Territorialism can be a weight. God forgive us if we are territorial … if we don’t see the whole world as our missions field.”
While weights can be sinful things, they can also be good things that become bad, Akins told pastors.
Floyd echoed Akins in linking the Great Commission Resurgence to the so-called conservative resurgence, a movement he said was bolstered by the pastors’ conference.
“Historically, the pastors’ conference has played a major directional role in SBC life,” he said. “In recent days, I’ve developed an overwhelming appreciation for the men that have fought for the infallibility of Scripture.
“Where are the leaders for the GCR? It appears we are more into playing it safe than risking it all (and) more committed to keeping our reputations than shouting that we are willing” to proclaim the gospel to the nations.
“We have won the battle over liberalism, but we are losing the fight over lostness.”
In a reference to the Great Commission Resurgence presentation, Floyd said: “Tomorrow is an urgent hour, people are lost and dying, and their eternal destiny is hell. And tomorrow is a day about change.
“Will you rise up and will we be the generation that will do all we can will all we have to extend gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth and present the gospel and make disciples of all nations?”
While the conference’s headline preacher, David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., didn’t mention the Great Commission Resurgence or the task force report, he referenced aspects of the debate that has surrounded them.
“We stand at a crossroads, and our participation in the global mission of God hangs in the balance,” he said. “We have a holy obligation to take the gospel to people who have never heard it before.
“The Word of God is calling us to sacrifice. God help us if we cannot sacrifice percentages and programs when he has asked us to sacrifice our lives.”
David Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, described the convention as facing a defining moment that will determine its legacy.
“We must hand to the next generation a convention that is fully committed to the Great Commission, fully committed to go to the ends of the earth for our Lord,” he said.
“When we hear 4.5 billion do not know Christ … does that bother you?” he asked, noting now is the time for action. “All the pretending and imagining and wishing and wanting doesn’t get you there.”
Andy Stanley, pastor of NorthPoint Community Church, Alpharetta, Ga., said many Southern Baptists merely are flirting with the Great Commission.
“Some of you are married to SBC life, and you flirt with the Great Commission,” he said. “Are you going to continue to be in love with a model of ministry and simply flirt with the Great Commission, or are you willing to fall in love with the Great Commission and let go of the ministries that aren’t making a difference?”
Steve Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., said he is for the Great Commission Resurgence, but what really is needed is “a red hot, Holy Ghost revival from God.”
The church is not excited about its ministry like it once was, and members “dabble instead of do,” he noted. It is time for churches and the Southern Baptist Convention to wake up, Gaines said. It’s not about living off the momentum of the past, he said, noting what once had life is now lethargic and what once was real is now deceptive.
“The passion we once had has been turned into a program.”
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, challenged pastors to make sure the essence of the gospel is saturating everything they do and say and to preach sanctification along with justification.
“If all you are selling is the law, all you are going to get is a group of young men and women who try to obey the law, fail because they can’t do it and bail,” Chandler said.
Tony Evans, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, challenged the church to remember that it is “a little bit of heaven a long way from home.”
Preaching from Matthew 16:18–19, Evans said the church of Jesus Christ has been operating on the defense when it should be thinking offensively. Jesus is saying that he is building his church, and hell is trying to stop him, Evans noted.
“The way you know that your church is not his church is that you are trying to stop hell, and hell is prevailing,” he said.
Vance Pitman, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Las Vegas, was elected president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference over Troy Gramling, pastor of Flamingo Road Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Dean Fulks, pastor of Lifepoint Church in Columbus, Ohio, was elected vice president and Michael Holcomb, senior pastor of Iron City Baptist Church in Anniston, Ala., was elected treasurer. Neither was opposed.