Every Christian is a minister, Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in his message to the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix.
Photo by Adam Covington
Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, gives the president’s address during the first day of the SBC annual meeting June 13 at the Phoenix Convention Center. “The pattern of ministry that spawned missions and evangelism in Acts can yield refreshment and empowerment for believers today,” he said, preaching from Acts 13:1-12. “If you’ll do things God’s way you’ll get God’s power.”
Gaines told messengers at the 160th session of the SBC June 13 that he was not just giving a convention address. “I’m going to preach the gospel,” said the pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church.
Taking his message from Acts 13:1-12, Gaines emphasized that “every person in this room that knows the Lord Jesus Christ is a minister – a servant of the gospel.”
“You might not be called to pastor a church, but still, nevertheless, if you’re a Christian, you’re a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The ministry of Jesus Christ, Gaines noted, “has a fundamental, essential process/pattern.”
Referencing a recent Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game, Gaines said he noticed that “even baseball has a process or pattern.”
In order to score, a batter has to hit the ball, run to first base, to second base, to third base and then run to home plate in order to score, Gaines said. “Bad things would happen if they got that out of order.”
In order to count the run, the player cannot change that sequence, he continued, noting that the same principle applies to ministry.
Acts 13 provides a “divine sequence/pattern” for ministry, Gaines said.
First, Christians are to minister to the Lord, he said. “God wants you and me to minister first to Him.”
Second, the Lord “must minister to us and then anoint us with His Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, do we have the power, do we have the anointing to minister to other people,” Gaines told messengers.
Christians, however, sometimes get that sequence out of order, he said.
While many good things are happening throughout the Southern Baptist Convention, there are challenges such as a decline in baptisms, Gaines said.
“But I rise before you today to remind us all that there is hope for the Southern Baptist Convention, there is hope for the United States of America, there is hope for our lost world because there is a bloody cross and there is an empty tomb.
“And, praise God, there is an occupied throne. We do not serve a dead Savior. We serve a living Lord. And because Jesus is alive there is hope for all of us today.
“If we will follow God’s pattern, we can have access to God’s power,” he said.
Citing the example of the church in Antioch in Acts 13, Gaines said ministry for the Lord begins with prayer and worship. He noted that the five church leaders who were described as prophets and teachers (including Paul) exemplified the diversity of the church at Antioch.
“It was a good prototype for churches in America today,” he observed, noting the church had both Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, educated and uneducated, well-to-do and poor people. “Yet, all of them had one thing in common – they had Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“I want to say this. I will tell you what will take care of the race issues in America – the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one race, the human race. God loves us all and God has created us all in His image. Jesus has died for us all and anyone can be saved. If you will repent of your sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, receive Him into your life, calling upon the name of the Lord, you will instantly have the Holy Ghost in you and He will help you love everybody around you and you won’t care who they are and what their background is. That’s what we see in the church at Antioch.”
Gaines said the church followed God’s pattern. They ministered to the Lord and fasted, they set apart Barnabas and Saul (Paul) for ministry and then fasted, prayed, laid hands upon them and sent them away to be the first missionaries “to the ends of the earth.”
“That overseas call would never have been given by God had the leaders and members of that church not ministered to the Lord in worship, prayer and fasting,” Gaines maintained.
He noted that people minister to the Lord when they worship and praise Him, thank Him for all He has done, pray for forgiveness of sins, pray for the needs of others, fast, read His Word and assemble with other Christians to worship Him.
After ministering to the Lord, “He will minister to you with His Holy Spirit,” Gaines said. He encouraged Christians each day to ask God to fill them with His Spirit so they can witness to lost people, pray more effectively and worship the Lord.
After Paul and Barnabas were sent out on that first missionary journey, Gaines said, they encountered people who rejected the gospel but they also encountered people who accepted Christ and were saved.
Ministry comes full circle when Christians minister to others with the gospel, Gaines said. “I want to encourage you to be a soul winner. Be evangelistic,” he exhorted. “If we will share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, people will be saved.”
But it must start with Christians ministering to the Lord, Gaines said. “If you do things God’s way, you’ll get God’s power.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector, baptistandreflector.com, newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.)