By David Roach
DURHAM, N.C. (BP) – State conventions, Southern Baptist Convention entity presidential openings, and a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study were the central topics of discussion during an Oct. 31 Facebook Live broadcast with SBC President J.D. Greear.
Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., said he is “more convinced than ever” God “is not done” with the SBC and “is extending us an invitation to trust Him.”
The 13-minute broadcast, cohosted by Summit associate pastor Todd Unzicker, included a discussion of Greear’s “gospel above all” emphasis at Baptist state convention annual meetings this fall. Among the meetings he has attended or is scheduled to attend are the Colorado Baptist General Convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists.
“I’ve been preaching” at state conventions “about the primacy of the gospel in our mission, the primacy of the gospel in just shaping who we are as a people – what we’re identified with,” Greear said, noting three main applications he has made of the “gospel above all” theme:
- Asking every Southern Baptist to pray for and share the gospel with one specific individual in 2019.
- Asking every church to “take the next step in church planting.” While some congregations may be ready to plant a church immediately, others may need to simply begin the process with assistance from the North American Mission Board or the International Mission Board, Greear said.
- Asking every Southern Baptist who is a recent college graduate to pursue the first two years of their career in a location where they can serve through a new church plant. The IMB, NAMB, or a state convention can help graduates find an appropriate city and church plant, Greear said.
Another topic of conversation was Greear’s call for Southern Baptists to pray and fast Oct. 8 for the five SBC entities seeking presidents. They include IMB, the Executive Committee, LifeWay Christian Resources, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The day of fasting reminded Greear, he said, “that God seems to be stirring His people for the sake of the Great Commission… If He’s going to make our institutions greater, then it’s going to be because we are single-focused on getting the gospel to the lost.”
If the SBC is “looking to our past for the future, that’s a dim future,” Greear said. “If we’re looking to our present talent, that’s a dim future. But if we just say, ‘God, we want to humbly trust in Your Word,’ that is a bright future indeed.”
Greear also provided an update on the Sexual Abuse Advisory Study he has undertaken in conjunction with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The study will be a two-year process and include a fluid group of outside experts, denominational leaders, and pastors. Currently, Greear said, the study is in its first of three phases: assessment.
“We’re listening to a lot of abuse victims, to a lot of advocates, people who have just been in this space for a lot longer than some of us have,” Greear said. “We’re also consulting with a number of experts from across the spectrum, from within the Baptist world and from outside the Baptist world.”
The study will result in recommendations for “tangible steps” churches and SBC entities can take to prevent and respond to sexual abuse, Greear said. An implementation phase of the study will begin at the 2019 SBC annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.
The broadcast closed with Greear requesting prayer from Southern Baptists for his family, wisdom, and personal focus on evangelism and church planting.
The entire broadcast can be viewed on Greear’s Facebook page.
David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.