Still ‘getting back to evangelism’

Proponents of the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention — that began in 1979 — often claimed that Southern Baptists needed their efforts to “get back to evangelism.”
Ironically, their political maneuvering throughout the ’80s did irreparable damage to Bold Mission Thrust — the ambitious, and admittedly arrogant, effort to take the Gospel to every person on Earth.
Now, many years after gaining full control of the denominational structure, there is still a cry to “get back to evangelism.” It must be a hard course to navigate.
In a Baptist Press column, SBC President Frank Page noted that a new 10-year evangelistic strategy would be forthcoming this summer when the North American Mission Board report is given at the annual SBC meeting.
Page said, in part: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see our baptism numbers turn around? The reasons for decline are many and varied. Part of the reason is because of the society’s increasing negativity toward the church. Part of the reason is our own lethargy, laziness and waste of energy in fighting the wrong battles and the wrong people. Turning the situation around cannot happen easily nor even quickly. However, I am convinced that God does want the situation to turn around!”
Who knows what the latest effort — to “get back to evangelism” — will be. One suggestion: Stop alienating virtually every segment of the population from women to Jews to Disney-goers — who are not exactly like you.


  1. Southern baptists are the poster children for organized or planned anything. That leaves no room for the Spirit. That is a major deficiency causing the decline of baptisms. The shifting currents of culture, the secularization of North America, and the regular garden variety fundamentalism dominating SBC life are other reasons why they cannot do the work of an evangelist.

    But the annoying question is why moderates are not very good at it either?

    Are we any more open to the Spirit than our Fundy relatives?

    I am not sure. We have our own stout dose of anger and bitterness. That shuts out the Spirit too. Coupled with lack of enthusiasm or is it interest in doing the work of an evangelist we are failing part of our Christ centered mission.

  2. John,

    Quick question: Your last sentence could either be read as a typo or to say that those other groups do not like the SBC. I imagine both readings have some truth to them but was wondering which (if you only intended one) meaning were you going for.

    Looking forward to you coming to GWU later this month.

  3. Bob-Indeed, the challenges you mention are faced by all Christians. Bitterness is no more helpful than condemnation.
    Dave-I added the missing “are.” Thanks. Look forward to being at Gardner-Webb later this month.

  4. John Pierce wrote:

    ((Ironically, their political maneuvering throughout the ’80s did irreparable damage to Bold Mission Thrust — the ambitious, and admittedly arrogant, effort to take the Gospel to every person on Earth.))

    I can remember how excited I was about Bold Mission Thrust … and then saddened as the concept faded as political maneuvering claimed the limelight. At that time I knew BMT was ambitious, but I was naive regarding how arrogant it was. Even if the initiative had not gotten knocked off the tracks, because of India and China, the best we could have done was less than half the people on earth. In a few years, when India (now 1 billion) passes China (now 1.4 billion) in population the percentage of the world that is Christian will be increasingly less rather than more. Our denominational distractions will have very little to do with that.

  5. Evangelism is hard such work.
    Ministry is too for that matter.
    So much human effort goes into devising evangelisme schemes.

    Did Christ scheme to reach the disciples? Did he instruct them to devise 10 year plans to reach Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria?

    NO!!! He said, when His Spirit comes on them, or any believer, then BY THAT POWER alone, we ARE witnesses. (that’s the main idea of Acts 1:8)

    What if we devised a scheme to let Christ be Himself through us.

    Then once we buy the plane tickets to these “remotest parts of the earth”, we let the fruits of the Spirit do the work.

    All we are called to do is ABIDE and receive the harvest……
    If that’s not true, then I question whether there really is any Power at work at all.

    Hey Bob–BTW–In Christ, all things are sacred….nothing is secular.

    Not bitter–just praying for better.

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