Southern Baptists Plan To Reach North America

Posted: November 25, 2008 in Christianity
Tags: , ,

NAMB the missions arm of the Southern Baptist is leading an evangelism effort to reach every person in North America with the Gospel by 2020. This is a wonderful goal to have, but one reason it will not happen is apathy in the church. Look at the numbers, if every Southern Baptist helped lead one person to Christ in the next 20 years, there would be over 16 million new Christians in that time. Is it that hard to reach 1 person in 20 years? In 2006 there were roughly 365,000 baptisms in Southern Baptist churches. It is a sad statement when 16 million members only reach 365,000 people in a year.

God is not happy with an apathetic church. Revelation 3:15-16 – 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. The apathetic church is of no use to God. There are far too many churches who year after year never see one person led to Christ. That says to me that they don’t care about people. If they cared about people, they would be reaching out to those in need of the Gospel.

Proverbs 1:32 – “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them. Complacency will destroy Christians and their witness to the community. Good or bad your community should at least know your exists. Christians can’t become happy sitting in their ivory towers, never coming in contact with the “dirty sinners” outside the church walls.

Proverbs 21:13 – He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered. How many times has God sent us the poor and needy that we have turned away? Many times a church will give them money and send them on their way. When in reality what they really needed was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Apathy has caused people lose focus on the real needs of others. It is easier to give the quick fix, instead of putting some time and effort into a person.

Romans 12:11 – Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. It is easy to spot Christians who have lost their zeal. Today we have placed so much emphasis on that initial feeling that comes with salvation, that when it begins to fade so does our zeal. Our zeal should not be based on the feelings it gives us, but out of a passion to serve the Savior who saved us on a Roman cross.

The church must regain it’s passion for those who need Jesus. There are many churches out there doing a great job, but there are far more who are not. If you are a Christian, commit yourself to leading at least 1 person to Christ in the next year. Don’t rely on your pastor to do all the work. It is the role of every Christian to spread the Gospel. What will it take for churches to become active in the community and in peoples lives? Will it take persecution? As a result of it’s apathy, the Church has lost it’s influence in society. It has remained silent for so long, now no one cares what it says. Now when people have problems they no longer turn to the local church, but to the government. It is time for the Church to become that beacon of light again. Put the apathy behind and start reaching out to those in need. And don’t take a back seat, but begin to speak out on the big issues again. It will not be popular, but we are in this situation because we have let our voices fade. May the voices proclaim Jesus from every city in the land.


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Comments
  1. ivankatz says:

    The question ‘Have you led anyone to Christ in the past year?’ leads me to ask the following questions:

    Are those with the gift of evangelism more important than non-evangelists?

    Is it possible that He considers those without the gift of evangelism to be an important part of His church too?

    What does Paul say?

    See 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 at the following link:

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2012:12-37;&version=50;

    I have knocked on doors, presented the Gospel, and equipped others to spread the Gospel. The result – to the best of my knowledge – not one person led to Christ!

    If He uses me to lead anyone to Him – it will be all His doing! And He will never let me know, lest I should boast!

    When he asks – how many have you led to me? My response will be – ‘none, evangelism is not my gift.’

    Then He will say …

    ‘Earnestly desire the best gifts and I will show you a more excellent way.’

    What does that mean…….

    Maybe I need to read 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 again, or Matthew 25:31-46 or the 23rd Psalm, or the Sermon on the Mount or …………!

  2. Jason Taber says:

    I would say that everyone is commanded to evangelism even if it is not where they are most gifted. Evangelism is also not how many people come to Christ. It is simply sharing the Gospel to people. The actual soul winning is left to God. We have no power to save anyone. But there is power in the Word. I also think God calls people to perform different roles and they are all important.

  3. ivankatz says:

    I guess the great ‘I Am,’will be my judge on this one.

    I know many agree with you but, I am not convinced we are all called and commanded to be evangelists.

    In the last chapter of Mark – ‘The Great Commission,’ He commands his 11 apostles to go out and preach the gospel.

    Then in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Paul says:

    ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

    Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

    But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.’

    Note: This text was NOT part of the original ‘Word of God.’ It was added later, possibly by an early Southern Baptist transcriber! (I am joking, of course.) But seriously, there is a foot note stating this text is not found in earlier transcripts of the Word.

  4. ivankatz says:

    I guess the great ‘I Am,’will be my judge on this one.

    I know many agree with you but, I am not convinced we are all called and commanded to be evangelists.

    In the last chapter of Mark* – ‘The Great Commission,’ He commands his 11 apostles to go out and preach the gospel.

    *Note: This text was NOT part of the original ‘Word of God.’ It was added later, possibly by an early Southern Baptist transcriber! (I am joking, of course.) But seriously, there is a foot note stating this text is not found in earlier transcripts of the Word.

    Then in 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 Paul says:

    ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

    Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

    But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.’

  5. Jason Taber says:

    When He goes through this list, He mentions nothing about evangelism. If it was just left to the apostles, then I believe there would be no one left to share the Gospel. My opinion is that apostleship consisted of only the 12. I don’t believe we have apostles today. I think evangelism falls to all Christians. I guess that is why I would consider myself an evangelical.

    I agree with your note on Mark 16:9-20. Fortunately we have Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23 and Acts 1:8 that confirm the command.

    Side note – if you read my thoughts enough, you will notice that I am probably a little more reformed than most Southern Baptists.

  6. ivankatz says:

    Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:44-49, John 20:21-23 and Acts 1:8 all confirm that He specifically commanded His 12 apostles to evangelize. He was not speaking to crowds. He was only speaking to His select 12.

    I understand evangelical perspective which advocates including all Christians in His command.

    Consider the following:

    WHO IS AN APOSTLE?
    First let’s define ‘apostle.’ Most references I have checked, agree that an apostle is ‘one who is SENT.’

    He SENT His twelve apostles to be His witness to the world.

    CAN’T ANY FOLLOWER BE ‘HIS SENT ONE?’
    There were multitudes who were ‘led to Jesus,’ who never became His disciples. They were never commissioned to be ‘His sent ones.’

    In fact He was so overwhelmed by the multitudes that were ‘lead to Him,’ He had to devise ways to get away from them!

    THE FIRST EVANGELICAL?
    In Mark 1:40-45 Jesus healed a leper, and Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning, “See that you don’t tell this to anyone.’

    Now that was not a very evangelical command!

    The leper didn’t obey Jesus. Instead he told everyone what had happened! ‘

    As a result of the leper’s disobedience, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly, but stayed outside in lonely places.

    IS EVERY EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN ‘HIS SENT ONE?’
    My point is this. Some Christians take it on themselves to evangelize without being one whom ‘He SENT.’

    Their ego, or guilt, or emotions or church doctrine sent them, rather than Jesus. They turn people off. They don’t discern who is and who is not receptive to His Gospel. Evangelism is not their gift or calling.

    Just because a person is ‘led to Him,’ and wants to tell others about Him, doesn’t mean He sent them, or that they are obeying His command!

    If He didn’t send them, they do harm, just as the leper, unintentionally, did harm to Jesus.

    HOW TO BECOME ‘HIS SENT ONE’ – FOLLOW HIS EXAMPLE
    Just as Jesus first selected, trained, and then commissioned His 12 apostles, so Christians should carefully select, train and send ‘His Sent Ones’ into the world.

    Instead, some churches, expect and command everyone and anyone under their roof to be their ‘Sent Ones,’ regardless of understanding, maturity, or gifts.

    That may be the reason – ’16 million members only reach 365,000 people in a year.’

    ALL ARE NOT ‘HIS SENT ONES’
    I will paraphrase Paul, ‘all are not apostles – His Sent Ones!’

    I agree, it seems some churches could do a more effective job in this area.

    But commissioning every baptized member to be ‘His Sent Ones,’ is not following His example, as evidenced in the Gospel verses noted above.

    THE CHURCH CAN’T BE WRONG – CAN IT?
    I know that is hard to accept, maybe even impossible to accept, since the church tells us repeatedly that all Christians are ‘His Sent Ones.’ They even quote these scripture verses to prove it.

    Is it possible that the church might be wrong?

    IS IT HERESY TO QUESTION THE CHURCH?
    Shouldn’t we question the church’s interpretation of scriptures, when it disagrees with what scripture plainly teaches?

    There are a lot of scriptures that are difficult to understand, but these scriptures are crystal clear!

    ………………………………………………………………………
    Note:

    It isn’t important one agrees with my perspective, or not. We can agree to disagree.

    What really matters is our relationship with Him!

    1 Corinthians 13:12
    Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.

    All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

    Ivan

  7. Jason Taber says:

    I will just say that I believe he sent out more than just 12 people and not all of them were considered apostles. I think there is more to being an apostle than just being sent. I think you get in real dangerous territory when you decide to let Christians select who are the sent ones. This is how many false churches operate. They claim to be the chosen ones, the true church. Anyone who would proclaim themselves to be an apostle today would raise serious questions for me.

    You have the wrong meaning of salvation when you say the church sends out people who are not “gifted” to do so. We do not save anyone. Only God can do so. God can use anyone He wants to reach someone.

    Christianity grows most in countries with persecution happening. It is because those people are willing to share Jesus unashamedly. Here in America, we hide behind the I’m not gifted to do that approach. Not just evangelism, but in all areas of gifts.

    By the way the leper in no way hurt Jesus. Jesus knew the leper would tell and it helped him to be able to fulfill prophecy.

    You seem to have issues with the church. I am not speaking any church’s teachings. What I write on this blog is from my own understanding of the Bible. If you read enough of my stuff, you will see that I take my own church to task when I feel it is wrong. So if you want to take shots at a church that is fine, but be more specific about which church and why.

    The church can be wrong and is. Just like every person ever born. No person fully understands everything in the Bible.

  8. TOM SPANGLER says:

    Jason, I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    I agree with almost everythng your saying. NAMB (North American Mission Board) has set a admirable goal. However, I would like to respond more on a local level, right where we live.

    We as Christians and as churches promote ourselevs as loving and concern people but when it comes time to put our words to action we pull back and refuse to invest “our ” time in another persons life, challenges, and problems. We are not even concern if that person should die today, that if they don’t know Jesus as their personal Savior, they will spend eternity in Hell. It seems our concern for the poor or children in our community is now around the Holiday season. We are quick to respond with supplying food baskets, Angel tree gifts or shoe boxes filled with items. But as indiviual believers won’t spend the time to deliver them ourselves to the people that need them, This is when you can reach out, show Christ like Love and share the Gospel. (No our atitude is I am too busy, it is the Pastor / Deacon job. I have done my part and have given. I feel good). Our concern for all the children being killed by abortion and woman faced with making a terrible life changing decision seems to only come to the fore front at election time. Then we think we did our Christian duty by voting for the pro-life canidate and then Gov’t will take this terrible sin and change things. When we as believers and churches should be proactive in reaching out to the woman with monetary assistance and the Gospel. I believe the church can certainly be more powerful than Planned Parenthood!

    People come to our churches both the saved and unsaved. Are they embraced, loved and respected? If they are “different” in scocial understanding or education do we desire to be there friends and understand them?Do we invited them in our homes? Do we even try and sit with them at church fellowship functions? There has been well over 50 families (ourselevs included) that have left First Baptist over the past year. As a church and its leaders have you repented, reached out to understand, restore, or even find out why? Until these things are done, I am afraid any evangelism will not be blessed.

    The apathy in the church today must be replaced with empathy. This must start with its leaders and then the congregation.

    The Question ” Have you led anyone to Christ in the last Year”? Was asked often by my former Pastor. He seemed to ask this question when we would be in heavy discussion and at times when we would not be in total agreement. My answer would be that I truly do not know the exact number of people that I have had the privilige to lead to Christ this past year. You see God has allowed me and told me to be HIS servant and tell the Good News of my Savior Jesus Christ. I have done this by going door to door, driving a church van, leading yourth, hospital visits, Sunday School teacher, Deacon and many other area’s. Did 90% of the people I had the prividege to lead to Christ accept Him immediately when I presented the plan of Salivation – No. However, the bountiful blessings flow when I see a former Sunday School student is now a Sunday School teacher, or a former bus kid married and leading his family to church. My belief is that when I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, then it was automatic for me to share and reach out to the loss. The talent “gift” of Christ likeness was given to me by my acceptance. It was now my responsibility of how much time and passion I was willing to give to others in sharing Jesus with others. There is absolutly NO reason that a born again believer can give why they can not evangelize.

    One last thing about evangelism. You can always tell where the church and its leaders put evangelism as importantance by looking at the church budget. One of the reasons for apathy in the church today is the fact that the money is being spent on large staffs and pretty buildings but very little on evangelism. However, when challenged, we are quick to point out to our giving to foreign missions, and state and regional associations. Doing this makes it right. This is our “broad based” evangelism effort. I give, the church sends it off, and I feel good. This way I don’t have to be personally involved with loss and hurting people.

    God Bless
    Tom Spangler

  9. Jason Taber says:

    Tom,

    I don’t understand your comment that says unless the church and its leaders have repented, reached out to understand, restore, or even find out why people left evangelism will not be blessed. It appears as if you are saying I may as well not evangelize because of the church I belong to. I don’t think God is going to say, You know I was going to save that person, but since Jason goes to First Baptist I can’t let the person he is witnessing to be saved. That logic does not make sense to me. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have talked to some who have left. The funny thing is that many who left, left because of other people who have now also left. I don’t know, but maybe God was weeding out people who couldn’t get along in order to start something new. I think in most of the cases repentance and forgiveness needs to go both directions. Many of the people who left are holding on to a bitterness that they don’t seem to be ready to let go of. I don’t know where your heart is, but I would turn your question back to you. Have you repented, forgave and asked for forgiveness to those you may have hurt or who have hurt you? If so, you have done all you can do. If not, don’t wait for the other person to go first. This applies to everyone hurt by issues in the past.

  10. TOM SPANGLER says:

    Jason, your logic in the weeding out can be just as truthful and or flawed as my logic. I know we both agree that we can not speak for God and explain what he is doing. However, God is certainly at work!

    Yes, I have repented, forgave and reached out, but to no avail. I have the peace that only God can give.

    God Bless
    Tom Spangler

  11. Jason Taber says:

    I would definitely agree that God is working. We have a new pastor and are starting to see new families coming to the church. Only God knows why the things that happened came about. I was just pointing to one of many possible reasons. I think too many times people want to point fingers, when it is entirely possible God was the reason it happened. He works in ways and situations that we don’t want to admit.

  12. ivankatz says:

    Jason: I will just say that I believe he sent out more than just 12 people and not all of them were considered apostles.

    Ivan: You are correct. See Luke 10 ‘Later the Master selected seventy and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go.’

    Note: He selected 70 to go ahead of him. He was deliberate in His selection process as evidenced by the specific number of 70. He could have sent anyone willing to go on His behalf, but did not.

    Jason: I think you get in real dangerous territory when you decide to let Christians select who are the sent ones.

    Ivan: As far as I know, every Christian missionary goes through a selection process, unless they are self appointed and self funded.

    Jason: This is how many false churches operate. They claim to be the chosen ones, the true church. Anyone who would proclaim themselves to be an apostle today would raise serious questions for me.

    Ivan: I agree, that false teachers are a concern. I would have to look at what they mean when they call themselves an Apostle. Your definition, according to your earlier posts, limits the apostles to Jesus 12 disciples. If you are using that definition, I agree with your statement.

    When I am using the term apostle, I am thinking of the role of an evangelist, and do not limit the term to Jesus’ 12 apostles.

    Jason: You have the wrong meaning of salvation when you say the church sends out people who are not “gifted” to do so. We do not save anyone. Only God can do so. God can use anyone He wants to reach someone.

    Ivan: I agree that God uses anyone he chooses.

    My quarrel with the evangelical church is their practice of putting guilt trips on people for not ‘leading people to Christ,’ or for not ‘leading at least one person a year to Christ,’ when in fact God is using them as He intended.

    Many Christian will never know how many they ‘lead to Christ,’ but that doesn’t mean they weren’t doing His will. Fortunately, the church will not be their judge.

    Jason: Christianity grows most in countries with persecution happening. It is because those people are willing to share Jesus unashamedly. Here in America, we hide behind the I’m not gifted to do that approach. Not just evangelism, but in all areas of gifts.

    Ivan: Maybe we should pray for persecution. (Just kidding! A little bit!)

    It is wrong to insist everyone a ‘gifted evangelist.’

    Christians, love the Lord, and are more than willing to share the hope that is within them. They do this with the gifts given them. But not everyone is a ‘gifted evangelist.’

    It is wrong when the church leadership tries to fit square pegs in round holes, when it comes to spiritual gifts, it intentionally puts guilt trips on true Christians, instead of recognizing their gifts and praising God for them.

    Jason: By the way the leper in no way hurt Jesus. Jesus knew the leper would tell and it helped him to be able to fulfill prophecy.

    Ivan: Luke 5:12-16
    Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses.

    Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

    Jesus last statement in this passage is worth repeating, ‘Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

    I am sure you are not condoning or justifying the leper’s disobedience to Christ’s command – are you? No – I am sure you agree, it is always better to obey His commands.

    Jason: You seem to have issues with the church. I am not speaking any church’s teachings.

    What I write on this blog is from my own understanding of the Bible. If you read enough of my stuff, you will see that I take my own church to task when I feel it is wrong.

    So if you want to take shots at a church that is fine, but be more specific about which church and why.

    Ivan: My replies are in response to your criticisms of the Southern Baptist Church.

    There are many fine Christian people in the Southern Baptist denomination.

    My point is that all who are true Christians are used by God, whether they are working in the role of evangelist or not. Some are evangelists, some are not.

    Some are following the command He gave to the 70, to prepare for his arrival.

    Others are following the command He gave to His apostles, to spread the gospel to the world.

    Most are following the command He gave to the leper – ‘Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”

    His commands are tailored to the individual. They are not a ‘one size fits all.’

    Some have gifts others don’t have, but they all fit together to form His body – the True Church, His Bride!

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