Thousands of Southern Baptists listen as California megachurch pastor David Jeremiah exhorts them to keep focused on preaching the gospel.
By Roger Alford
NASHVILLE – California Pastor David Jeremiah offered sage advice to fellow Southern Baptists gathered in Nashville earlier this week for an Annual Meeting: Don’t let the business of the church get in the way of sharing the gospel.
“We have to stay on message,” the 80-year-old Jeremiah told Southern Baptist Convention leaders Monday afternoon . “Take care of the business, but, when you do that, get back to the real deal, because the enemy will try to use things that we get involved in to water down the message.”
Jeremiah, pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego, said he was aware of the controversies at play in the SBC this year, all of which are being aired nationally in secular media. He warned that Southern Baptists need to be careful not to allow any issues to overshadow the gospel.
“The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, so preach the gospel,” Jeremiah said to the applause of thousands of people who had gathered in Nashville on Monday, a day ahead of the Annual Meeting. “Let other people be known for other things. Let us be known as the group of people who believe deeply, in the faith, in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we preach that gospel, that we do it with all our hearts.”
Earlier on Monday, Jared Wellman of Texas had moved that the Executive Committee amend its agenda to consider expanding a third-party investigation into how SBC leaders had handled sexual abuse claims. The Executive Committee had announced last week that Guidepost Solutions, an investigations firm, would look into those claims, but Wellman said that move didn’t go far enough.
“It is hard to imagine under any circumstances that a body of believers in the Lord Jesus would vote to limit in any way an investigation to find the truth when there are serious allegations related to sexual abuse,” said Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin.
Tennessee pastor Grant Gaines brought a similar motion to a vote of SBC messengers two days later. The messengers overwhelmingly approved establishment of the task force to oversee the investigation, directing newly elected SBC President Ed Litton to appoint members.
Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd urged Southern Baptists to remember debate is “good and healthy when we do this biblically.”
“Don’t take this conflict as what’s bad in the SBC family,” Floyd said. “Take it as iron sharpening iron.”