ORLANDO, Fla. — Just as
Caleb and Joshua delivered a “bold report” to the Israelites about the Promised
Land, so has the Great Commission Resurgence task force relayed a “compelling
vision” to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), President Johnny Hunt told
Delivering his final address
to the convention as its president, Hunt said this year’s annual meeting in
Orlando, Fla., finds the SBC at a crossroads.
“Many are saying this could
be a history-making convention,” the pastor of First Baptist Church of
Woodstock, Ga., told messengers. “God could use some of the things we do here …
to embolden Southern Baptists to their greatest days.”
Referring to Joshua 14, Hunt
compared the report of the Great Commission Resurgence task force, which later
was adopted by messengers, to the “bold report” Caleb and Joshua brought back
to the Israelites after spying out the land of Canaan.
Twelve spies were sent to
assess the land promised to them by the Lord; 10 of them brought back “bad
reports,” Hunt said. Joshua and Caleb saw things differently.
“Ten of the spies magnified the problems, spent lots of time
reviewing the past and, in the process, missed God,” he said.
Caleb and Joshua, however,
“magnified the power of God, made so much of the promises of God and desired to
lead the people to a brighter future,” Hunt added.
After the Israelites
rebelled against Joshua and Caleb’s report, the tribe would not inherit the
land the Lord had promised them for another 45 years, Hunt reminded messengers.
Saying the spirit of the
task force report mirrors that of Caleb’s, Hunt called the group’s “Penetrating
the Lostness” document a “compelling vision” for the denomination — “something
that will take the yawn out of Southern Baptist rhetoric.”
“I’m tired of yawning. I’m
tired of having my membership in a convention that’s declining,” Hunt declared.
And decline is the No. 1
concern. According to the SBC’s Annual Church Profile report released last
month, Southern Baptist church membership dipped 0.42 percent in 2009.
Most SBC leaders agree the
primary reason is the aging of the denomination, and only an infusion of young
leadership will stave off a continued slide.
“Look around,” he said.
“We’re aging. We’re balding. We don’t have 45 years. … We’re here to make
decisions that will affect what type of convention we offer to the young ones
that are coming behind us.”
Hunt, well known for his
mentorship of young evangelical leaders through his Timothy + Barnabas
Ministry, said he is being challenged by the up-and-coming generation of church
But they will not lead the
convention into the future without the help of those who have come before them,
“I’d like to be a blessing
to the ones that went before me that made such an investment in me,” he said.
“But I want to grab the young group behind me … and rally them to our greatest
days in Southern Baptist life.”
Pointing out Joshua was 100
years old and Caleb was 85 when he took the land of Hebron from the Anakites,
Hunt said older pastors should not yet concede their ministries. “If you’re
still breathing, it is still your day,” he noted.
“Caleb and Joshua were
senior-adult saints that left spiritual wealth to those behind them,” Hunt
While many details still are
to be ironed out now that the Great Commission Resurgence report is approved,
Hunt said he is convinced it will renew Southern Baptists’ hearts for
fulfilling God’s utmost commandment.
“The future of the Southern Baptist Convention will
not rest on a single vote alone,” he said. “But who can calculate what it will
mean as a waiting world and a rising generation watch to see if we’re serious
about emboldened Great Commission faithfulness in the future.”