President’s Perspective: We Must Share Jesus

Like many Southern Baptists, I recently read the report of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Evaluation Task Force with great interest. GCR was an initiative adopted by messengers to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando upon recommendation by the 2009 Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. There were several components, but the primary motivation for adopting the report in 2010 was to improve our effectiveness as Southern Baptists at addressing global lostness.

As the world’s population grew, Southern Baptists lagged behind in reaching unreached and unengaged people groups (UUPGs), sending missionaries, planting churches, evangelizing the next generation, and baptizing new believers. Unfortunately, things have not turned around. That is not to say that our mission boards, state conventions, associations, and local churches have not given great effort to go and make disciples of all nations. But our cooperative work has not surpassed the rate of the population growth. The task of the Great Commission is not only unfinished, it is swelling.

While the report contained very insightful data and conclusions, I found one quote to be particularly compelling. Woman’s Missionary Union Executive Director Sandy Wisdom-Martin commented to the task force, “The Great Commission cannot be parceled and assigned to our boards. While the efforts of our boards are critical, it is incumbent on every Christ follower to proclaim the gospel. This responsibility cannot be abdicated. We have church members who get married in the church and get buried in the church and live their entire life without once sharing their faith. This is the greatest tragedy of our generation, that we would not personally take responsibility for the sacred task entrusted to each of us. It really doesn’t matter what strategy we put into place if we don’t change the culture of our community of faith. This has to be the foundation.”

We have a role to play as members of the body of Christ, and it is not to sit in the grandstands and merely cheer or jeer state and national leaders and entities in our South Carolina and Southern Baptist conventions. Following Jesus is not a spectator sport. We have been called to get into the game. As Wisdom-Martin said, “It is incumbent on every Christ-follower to proclaim the gospel.” If the tide is to turn in the Southern Baptist Convention, I believe it is going to be because individual believers in local churches recall and fulfill their responsibility as ambassadors for Christ. We must tell the world the good news of Jesus!

While some may be tempted toward hopelessness by this report and the overwhelming statistics on global lostness, I must confess that I am deeply hopeful. That’s because I know what God can do. His Word assures me that He “is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” It is impossible to believe God and be hopeless at the same time. In more than 200 years, we have not met a challenge from which we have backed down. We have responded by faith and with conviction. The SBC needs South Carolina Baptists to lead once again. Till all have heard, we must share Jesus!

Wes Church, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Columbia, is president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.