Akin, SBC leaders talk through issues of ‘perfect storm’ during Baptist21 panel

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by Lauren Crane

According to Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt, a “perfect storm” is coming.

As God prepares men and women to take his name to the nations, Hunt said believers around the world will see a groundswell in God bringing glory to himself. This surge in the gospel message is dependent not upon the Southern Baptist Convention or individual men and women, but only upon the Lord, Hunt said. It is God’s doing that has brought to light a number of issues confronting leaders in the SBC, and it will be God’s doing that a mighty movement will take place. This perfect storm is coming, leaders agree, and it is up to leaders within the SBC to determine whether or not they will be a part of it, Hunt said.

Hunt, often known for his support of young leaders in the SBC, opened a panel discussion, hosted by the website Baptist21, on June 23 by speaking about this movement of God that he believes he is about to take place. Participating in the panel discussion were Southeastern Seminary President Daniel Akin, along with Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Daniel Montgomery, pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Ky. which hosted the event; David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.; and Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.

The men, speaking to a crowd of predominantly “young leaders,” addressed the Great Commission Resurgence, a topic that has garnered much attention in recent months within the SBC.

“Why is the Great Commission Resurgence important and why should pastors care about it?” Akin asked.  “Lost people matter to God and they should matter to us. There are 255 million lost people in North America today, and business as usual among Southern Baptists is not working. We’ve been losing ground for decades.

“There is no grand scheme. It’s really quite simple. We need to be doing all we can to give the gospel to every tribe, to every tongue, to every people group and to every nation. We know they will be there before the throne of God in such a number that we cannot count them. I don’t want Southern Baptists to be sitting on the sidelines watching what God is going to do. I want to be a part of it. That’s what the Great Commission Resurgence is all about.”

The men on the panel agreed that being motivated by the gospel should be the goal of each agency and church within the SBC. However, they also see that, in large part, that is not currently the case.  With infighting over the partnerships with the Acts 29 Church Planting Network, the disagreements about whether or not to give to the Cooperative Program and arguments over the effectiveness of the current structure of much of the SBC, the focus is often not on the gospel message.

“I’ve worked for a lot of Southern Baptist entities. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, and I can’t say I’m impressed with the SBC. I still believe in it, so for me, we’ve gotten to a place where we have to make some substantive changes,” Stetzer said. “I’m really a believer in that if we can come together over the next several years, we’ll be more efficient and effective. I think we’re at that tipping point.”

Stetzer and the other men encouraged young leaders to stay and fight for the SBC, not to pull back at this moment. “If I don’t see the SBC and my state convention go in the right direction, I will not wait forever to say ‘That’s not a good use of my resources.’ But I don’t think right now is the right time to pull those resources.”

Akin said, “Am I happy with how all the money is used? No. I want to see more go to the International Mission Board. My goal is to pass the baton to you and see the SBC in better health than it is today.”

Platt said instead of focusing on the issues at large within the Southern Baptist Convention, he believes it is his responsibility, as a pastor of a church, to focus primarily on what he can do to lead his church in effective use of its resources for the sake of the gospel.

“The wrestling for me comes in terms of the local church God has given me to lead. I’ll be the first to admit that the church I pastor is spending untold amounts of money on structure and a building that I’m not sure is fulfilling the Great Commission. We have to take a close look on the local church level to see what we can do to fulfill the Great Commission with those we are called to shepherd and lead.”

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