The number one reason most church problems do so much damage is that the people in the know, those charged with leadership, have not anticipated these things and done the hard work necessary to head them off.
Good preparation will end most church problems before they arise.
Here are 10 rules–principles, suggestions, guideposts, lifelines, call them whatever you wish (except “laws”)–which, if implemented, can stop the next church split in its tracks and allow this healthy church to go chugging on down the tracks while the devil sits there scratching his head, wondering, “Wha’ happened?” (Old comic book image there).
1. Get your people serious about prayer.
Prayer is not brackets with which we open and close meetings. Prayer is not tipping our hat to the Almighty to let Him know we are aware He is eavesdropping the proceedings. Prayer is not a formality to be gotten out of the way so we can get on with the good part.
Prayer is calling on the Lord of Heaven and earth to help us, to guide us, to protect and fill and use us. Prayer is accessing Heaven’s power and God’s wisdom for earth’s work.
Once a war breaks out, it’s not too late to pray. But it almost is. It’s never too late to pray, but far better to have been earnest in our praying when matters were in hand and nothing ominous loomed on the horizon.
Prayer for believers is like weightlifting for athletes: you do it faithfully in the inner room so when you face the opponent you are strong and ready.
This is not a one-time act by a preacher to turn his church into a prayer/powerhouse. It will require many sermons, his example, changes in the order of worship, constant teaching and reminding, and creative plans and challenging reminders for his people.
This is the first of a four part series of articles taken from Dr. Kelley’s presentation on how Southern Baptists could become the “New Methodists.” In this first part, he walks us through the history of evangelism in the SBC. In part two, he will examine the current state of evangelism in the SBC. In the third part, he will explain where we’ve gone wrong. And in the final installment, Dr. Kelley will present a way to fix the problem.
Part 1: The History of Evangelism in the SBC
For the last several years, following the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, I have been immersed heart and soul in the recovery and restoration of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. An invitation to address the SBC evangelism directors at a recent meeting in New Orleans came as a breath of fresh air, giving me a reason to return to the passion of my adult life: the study of Southern Baptist evangelism. I used the opportunity to take a deep look around and for some time have been digesting what I saw. I have drawn some conclusions I feel I must share. Along the way, the preparation of this presentation became the preparation of my soul for seeking a stirring of God’s Spirit in my heart and across the Southern Baptist Convention. May it be so for you as well.
The road we will walk begins with the amazing story of how Southern Baptists became the largest non-Catholic religious body in America.
The best snap shot is this. In 1945 Southern Baptists baptized approximately 257,000 people into their churches. In 1955, only ten years later, they baptized approximately 417,000 people, almost doubling in just ten years. To quote an ancient Hebrew expression: Wow! That is amazing, phenomenal growth. How did we do it?
Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology
Conversion and Regeneration
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
A Personal Application of the Words
I was born into a lost and sinful world; weren’t we all!
Sin messed up the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the mess has been growing like a blazing inferno. Sin’s power to destroy, distort, and devalue will never change. It is seated in the very soul of sinners. Immorality and corruption, prejudice and pride, iniquity and evil, out of which grow wars and rumors of war will continue unless the hearts of men are changed.
By the age of nineteen, I was the youngest man in my state to acquire a license to sell alcohol and was part-owner and manager of a 500-seat nightclub in my hometown. The business grew. It was sort of the happening place in our city and the largest dance club between Memphis and Nashville. I was messed up and helping people make a bigger mess of their lives.
Something happened to me that changed the course of my life, family, and the lives of others. According to John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, I was born again by the regenerating power of God; the old was gone and the new had come! In Christ, He brought about a new spiritual, volitional, moral, and intellectual change. Thirty-five years later, God continues cleaning up the mess in my life through His life-changing power.
How did this change come about in my life? Did God zap me with a bolt and jolt of regenerating power? Did I say the right words of righteousness or do something to gain God’s favor? Was it God? Was it me? What happened?