Christians were called to action March 12 during a nationwide simulcast at First Baptist Church of Charlotte.
First Baptist and North Greenville University in Travelers Rest, S.C., joined forces to present the event, “Awaken: America’s Spiritual Town Hall.” It featured a panel discussion and individual messages on prayer, unity and “Christian citizenship.” Speakers included Mark Harris, Alex McFarland, Ken Hemphill and Tony Beam. North Greenville University’s Joyful Sound also performed.
The decline of church baptisms, the rise in college students who leave the church and the 80 percent of churches that are declining or plateaued are all signs “we live in tragic times,” said Harris, pastor of First Baptist and president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. It has been more than 100 years since the last great nationwide movement of God, he added.
“For there to be a real spiritual awakening in this nation, we must awaken to the reality of the world around us … a culture that has become desensitized.”
Christians must follow Jesus’ example and stand up for what they believe. Jesus approached people in love, Harris added, but He “never ever sacrificed Truth.”
“We have a place at the market place of ideas,” he said. “… I really believe that when we demonstrate a love for people and stand on Truth in that love … that’s when we begin to see real genuine conversion.”
According to a study by The Barna Group, Harris said, only 51 percent of our nation’s pastors hold a “biblical worldview.” He read six questions from that study. The questions included: Do you believe in the accuracy of the Bible? Do you believe in the sinless nature of Jesus? Do you believe in the literal existence of the devil? Do you believe in the omnipotent and omniscience of God? Do you believe in salvation by grace alone? Do you believe in the personal responsibility to evangelize?
“It burdens my heart, no it breaks my heart, to report … that of America’s pastors, those six simple questions that should have been answered ‘yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes,’ only 51 percent of the people in the pulpits of this country said they bought in to those six things,” he said.
“We as the people of God must come back to the foundation of our nation, the foundation that said the reliance will not be in our programs,” he said. “It will be in the movement of the Spirit of God and in Him alone.”
“Desperate prayer” is crucial to a spiritual awakening, added Ken Hemphill, director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization at North Greenville University. “It’s not just Ok, we’re going to open the meeting with prayer. It [needs to] become … a saturation point of your church.”
Churches must also “speak with one voice,” Hemphill said.
“We have a powerful testimony to a lost world,” he said. “Particularly [with] the issues of the day, the social issues that are defining, and in some ways undermining, our culture.”
During a question and answer time, one man asked how discipleship and relationship should play a role in improving today’s churches.
“Bring people into your home,” Hemphill said. “People are more open to the gospel than we are prepared to share the gospel. … We’ve got to learn how to build relationships with lost people again.”
“[Discipleship] … doesn’t happen by osmosis, but it does need to happen in the natural walking together of two people … as they share from their experience,” added Tony Beam, vice president for Student Services and director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville.
“They walk together and that lifetime of experience gets poured into another person,” added Beam, who hosts a Christian radio program. “I like to think about it as one person pouring themself out, pouring their knowledge, their love of God, their understanding of the scripture … into another person and that’s a good way for discipleship to take place.”
Christians – especially today’s college students – in the United States also need to know their country was founded upon biblical principles, said Alex McFarland, director for the Center for Apologetics and Christian Worldview at North Greenville.
“Seventy-two percent of people raised in church go away to college and then walk away from the faith,” said McFarland, who has authored numerous books related to apologetics and has been a guest contributor on Fox News.
“Now when I speak on university campuses I’m told the Founding Fathers were atheists [and] secularists. False!” he said. “Fisher Ames who wrote the First Amendment said … the primary text book in public schools should be the Bible. I think it’s interesting today that the secular humanists leading America today seem to know more about the First Amendment’s application than the men that wrote the First Amendment.”
He added, “My friends, we will lose America on our watch if we don’t pray and don’t stand up and lovingly … say to our citizens, our neighbors, ‘We love America but we love God.’ … Hollywood can outspend us, the media can shout more loudly, but we who are Christians have Jesus and His promise.”
For more information about future events go to www.truthforanewgeneration.com.