Archive for September, 2013
Do you ever get tired of bad news? The mantra “If it bleeds, it leads” spills over into our surrounding culture and we find ourselves neck deep in murder, war, greed, malice and unfaithfulness. At times, it seems no good news is to be found.
It may seem we live in times worse than any that have come before. This, most likely, is not the case.
God’s original creation was perfect in every way. After six days and an evaluation of “very good,” He rested. Adam had all he could want except a wife, a predicament God soon remedied. All they could eat, all they could drink, perfect harmony with each other and their surroundings, and daily fellowship with God.
That was good news.
Until they fell to temptation, bringing a curse upon all that God had made.
Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, humanity has been dealing with the effects of sin. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has escaped sin’s reach. Humanity is tainted, animal life is tainted, and plant life is tainted. From atoms to universes, God created it all. From atoms to universes, sin has affected it all.
This is bad news.
Ben Mandrell, writing in Do Over: New Life in Christ, said it this way:
The bottom line: humanity has no hope from within. This is a problem you and I cannot solve. Someone must break into this jail and show us the way out. Paul has backed us into a cold cell, the bars coldly locked into place. He has our attention. No one is righteous—not even you. Thankfully, there is a solution.
In other words, the bad news is not the final news. There is good news.
From the earliest of Jesus’ ministry He used this phrase to describe what people needed to believe in order to be reconciled to God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” (Mark 1:15). The core of Jesus’ ministry is described by it: “Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness” (Matthew 9:35). In remembrance of Jesus’ ministry and message the apostle Paul wrote, “Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel [“good news”] I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it” (1 Corinthians 15:1).
There is good news, but what is it, exactly?
Paul continues, “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).
Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection constitute the core of the gospel message—the good news. Our response to the good news is belief, as Jesus stated. Paul echoes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Christ’s offer of salvation is the foundation for regaining everything lost in Adam and Eve’s fall. Helping men, women, boys and girls realize this, helping them hear and understand Christ’s offer of salvation, is the goal of Bible Studies for Life.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd
Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
After a full Sunday, Jeana and I flew to Boston to meet with Pastors and their wives about their involvement with SEND North America. Last year, we worked in partnership with the North American Mission Board in this same capacity, mobilizing Pastors and hosting meetings in New York City and San Francisco.
Our goal in SEND North America
Our goal in SEND North America is to mobilize churches to 32 targeted, strategic cities in North America that are in need of gospel churches. We are mobilizing Pastors and churches to be Lead Partners in one or more of these cities over a five-year period of time. We want them to lead, strategize, and mobilize an additional five churches to target that city in church planting efforts during these five years.
While churches that give through the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention and/or to the Annie Armstrong Mission Offering for North America are involved in church planting through their giving, in reality, only an estimated 4% of all Southern Baptist churches are directly involved in church planting.
If we are going to see the gospel penetrate the lostness of North America, we must plant vibrant gospel churches in the major cities of North America.
Eighty percent of North America lives in cities. Three out of four people in all of North America are in need of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The 2010 Southern Baptist Convention adopted the motions and recommendations of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. After one full year of giving our lives to studying our convention’s needs relating to the Great Commission, this group of twenty-one people I had the privilege of leading determined that we must prioritize church planting in our convention. We felt it was urgent. Our convention adopted these motions and recommendations, and together we moved into a new day of doing what we can to penetrate the lostness of North America and the world. Dr. Kevin Ezell has just completed his third year leading the North American Mission Board. He and his team are doing a splendid job working with churches and state conventions to mobilize all of us to this strategic, God-sized vision of planting churches all across North America, but especially targeting the large metropolitan regions. We are all working together in partnership and cooperation: churches, state conventions, and the North American Mission Board, along with the entire Southern Baptist Convention, to penetrate the lostness of North America and the World. We cannot do it alone. We must work together.
Confession: We don’t have it all figured out
We don’t have it all figured out. Changing strategies, adjusting monies and personnel is never easy, from the smallest church to a large convention of churches like the Southern Baptist Convention. Variance of opinion occurs, but the vision is so believed in and needed, we are all trying to work together to try to make a difference for Christ. We cannot get lost in the details of “how,” but we must be compelled with the vision of “why.” People are lost without Christ. We must tell people about Jesus. We must win them to Christ. We must plant gospel churches to see people evangelized, discipled, and sent out to reach a lost world.
The Apostle Paul went to the major cities, not because he did not believe people in smaller towns did not need Jesus, but because he believed going to the cities would result in the gospel being taken exponentially everywhere. Cities are the crossroads for large populations of all kinds of people, where cultures are often created and experienced, where financial strength is usually realized, and where movements are usually born. Paul was convinced that gospel churches planted in these cities would expand the gospel exponentially.
While we may vary along the way with the “how,” as gospel people who are engaged in a gospel church, we should all realize its need and value. We must plant more churches to help evangelize the people of the world. The people called Southern Baptists are committed to turning this around, and pastors and churches believe in the vision. Recent gatherings and commitments made towards church planting is spelling a day of hope in our convention and I am grateful for what God is doing.
Your church can be involved
Partnering with other churches makes church planting a hands-on possibility for all 50,000 Southern Baptist churches and congregations. Whether we help plant a church in one of these thirty-two major cities or in an under-served area somewhere in the north, west, east, or south, let’s all do something about forwarding the gospel through church planting. Call your local association, state convention, or the North American Mission Board and determine how you can be involved directly. If your church determines all you can do is give financially, then give more through the Cooperative Program, our special North American Mission Board’s Annie Armstrong Offering, or the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions for the purpose of penetrating lostness.
The need is urgent, so do something
Listen friends, we can all do something. We can all do more. Both church planting and evangelism are critical in reaching North America and the World. People are in need of knowing Christ. We have the gospel. We have the answer. Let’s do something.
Yes, it is true, and much more than a cliché: We can do more together than we can do apart. Let’s change the trajectory together. Let’s join together to reach America, North America, and the World for Christ. The need is urgent. Let’s do something.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie W. Floyd