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Editor’s note: This commentary was written before the May 29 action of the State Board of Missions creating a task force of the current and former Florida Baptist State Convention presidents in response to the “Great Commission Resurgence” declaration. Having been informed of the creation of the FBSC presidents task force, Cross declined to comment on the action, preferring to allow his commentary to speak for itself.
A dream begins with “Imagine if.” I have been challenging
us to dream as Florida Baptists in a fresh way. I’ve asked us, and continue to
do so, to fast and pray and seek God for a supernatural outpouring of the Holy
Spirit of God that will produce supernatural results. We need a fresh movement
of God here in our state of approximately 18 million people, the vast majority
of whom have never experienced the life changing love of Christ!
I want to ask you this simple question, “Imagine if we
experienced a Great Commission Resurgence in the Florida Baptist Convention and
in the Southern Baptist Convention?” What would happen if we got so serious
about the Great Commandment and the Great Commission that we made God’s passion
our passion; God’s priority for His church our priority for His church? What
would take place if our state convention, made up of over 2,900 churches and
missions, experienced such a resurgence?
What would occur in our cooperation as Florida Baptists and
Southern Baptists if we asked ourselves these questions: What are we doing that
is effective in fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission?
What are we doing that is not effective in fulfilling the Great Commandment
and the Great Commission? If we are serious about obedience to God’s Word, and
being faithful managers of the resources entrusted to us, what do we need to
stop doing that is not effective? What do we need to start doing that is
I trust that we as pastors are leading the churches we serve
to ask these same questions. These are not negative questions, but positive
ones. We need to quit doing the wrong things better. While our population has
doubled in the last 30 years in Florida and we are basically baptizing the same
numbers of people, we should be brave enough to admit we have some serious problems.
We have more churches, more money being given, larger church and state
convention staffs, yet there is a serious disconnect somewhere in regards to
the goal of fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
We may all talk about how busy we are and all that we are
doing, but are we busy about the right things? Do we have biblical goals? So
many local churches are bogged down by constitutions and by laws, church
polity, Robert’s Rules of Order, and a number of other man made traditions.
Phrases like, “We’ve never done it that way before, “We have always done it
this way, “and “Can we do that?” seem to be the immediate response far too
often from church and convention leaders. Committee meetings are seemingly
opportunities to hold back leaders so the status quo can be maintained. In the
meantime 167,708 people will die in Florida this year and the vast majority are
going to hell and we are afraid of upsetting certain people in our churches or
convention. What’s wrong with this picture?
What ever happened to being afraid of offending our holy
God? Why are so many people afraid of what others think? Proverbs 29:25 says,
“The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is
kept safe.” Are we corporately willing to ask the Lord if all we are doing is
pleasing in His sight? Simply put, are we truly obeying Him?
Pastor Johnny Hunt, our Southern Baptist Convention
president, has officially called us back to a Great Commission Resurgence. He
is leading us to get back to fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
This movement is something many of us have talked about and prayed for! I’ve
heard many pastors throughout our state of various church sizes and styles
speak of this need. We’ve talked of the need to carefully examine all we are
doing in our churches, associations, and conventions in light of the Word of
God and His purpose for His church and thus our purpose as a convention of
This movement is growing rapidly among pastors, lay leaders,
seminary presidents, and national agency leaders. I want to encourage you to go
to www.greatcommissionresurgence.com and discover more about this movement and sign it today. Please make plans
to attend the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Louisville,
Kentucky June 23-24 and support this effort to turn our convention around from
decreasing in baptisms to reaching our nation and the unreached people of the
world like never before!
There are those who are hesitant or resistant to change or
even study of what we are doing. Why? We need to be less concerned about self
preservation and more about Gospel proclamation! It is shameful that so many
are more concerned about the wording of the document than the intent of the
Great Commission. Some seem to be parsing words and asking for a definition of
terms for this document as if they were exegeting biblical texts. This is a
cause of great concern. Why the push back? Why would we not all be able to join
a movement like this? What is it going to take?
As I travel our state and talk with pastors of various size
churches and styles, I am hearing grassroot leaders saying we need some
changes. I understand that we may not agree with every word in this man made
document. Please do not allow this to keep you from supporting this movement.
We can agree to disagree where we need to, but the spirit and tone of this
document is that we as individuals, churches, and as a denomination need to get
back to leading souls to Chirst! Jesus is too sweet and hell is too hot for us
to do otherwise. Jesus paid much too high a price for us to not be giving
ourselves to what He gave Himself for!
Please remember that we are the Florida Baptist Convention
and the Southern Baptist Convention. The local church is the headquarters.
Jesus died for the church, not a denomination. We are not a top down
denomination where we get our directives from Nashville, Jacksonville, or
an associational office. Christ is the Head of His church and we must submit to
His authority as revealed in the Word of God! As we cooperate together as Baptists,
may our orthodoxy be fleshed out with our orthopraxy. Information without
application and transformation is an abomination. We need to “live love loud.”
I am praying that the churches and the convention, the
pulpit and the pew, the young families and senior adults, the seasoned believer
and new Christ follower, church staffs and convention staff will log on today
and be a part of this movement www.greatcommissionresurgence.com. May this be
for the glory of God and the souls of mankind!