Traditionalist Ministry Practices
Dr. Rick Patrick, Pastor
First Baptist Church
Not only do Traditionalists have certain theological positions that distinguish us from our more Calvinistic brothers and sisters, but we also pursue various ministry practices that logically arise from such beliefs. Restoring the widespread use of such practices in Southern Baptist life will strengthen our witness, edify the Body and advance the Kingdom.
Leading Someone to Pray the Sinner’s Prayer
Some claim the Sinner’s Prayer is responsible for sending to hell those who make false professions. However, the person’s own unbelief is truly responsible—not the prayer uttered by their unbelieving heart. Certainly, the witnessing Christian must exercise integrity in explaining that the Sinner’s Prayer is not some mantra that magically saves a soul, but a confession that must be accompanied by genuine repentance and faith. Properly shared, the Sinner’s Prayer is a legitimate spiritual and biblical method for assisting lost souls in confessing their faith in Christ.
Extending an Evangelistic Altar Call
Some question the legitimacy of asking persons to come forward down an aisle in order to indicate their desire to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. This approach, it is said, improperly magnifies man coming to God instead of God coming to man. Sometimes scorned as the idolatry of Decisionism, asking for a public response to the preaching of the Word of God is actually a very biblical and healthy practice. Unfortunately, as in the case of the Sinner’s Prayer, whenever we offer people the opportunity to make a genuine profession, we cannot eliminate the possibility that they will make a false one.
Inviting a Spiritually Gifted Evangelist
In Ephesians 4:11, when listing the areas of ministry giftedness with which God’s Holy Spirit blesses the church, the evangelist is specifically and clearly mentioned. Although we are all called to share the Good News of Jesus, some have been uniquely anointed and gifted by God to present the gospel with such boldness and clarity that sinners choose to respond in repentance and faith. Today, although many churches choose to host other events in lieu of revivals or evangelistic services, we still believe in regularly inviting spiritually gifted evangelists to serve.
Orthodoxy drives orthopraxy. Once we believe the right things about God, we will act on them and pursue ministry practices which are also in keeping with God’s Word and His desire for us as we minister. If the Traditionalist-Calvinist pendulum has swung so far to the Calvinist side that we are largely abandoning these time honored Southern Baptist ministry practices, then it is time for us to reflect upon that fact and to correct our over-correction by reforming the reformers.