ROGERS, Ark. — Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt called on the denomination’s pastors Aug. 26 to seek “a personal Great Commission Resurgence” and lead their congregations to “embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”
Hunt spoke to more than 400 pastors and laypeople at the Church at Pinnacle Hills in Rogers, Ark., during the first “listening session” for rank and file Southern Baptists held by the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.
“We will see significant change when the pulpits in America of Southern Baptist preachers make it a priority to embrace the importance of engaging others with the gospel,” Hunt said, adding that his own family has made a renewed commitment to personal evangelism, missions and sacrificial giving. “I am really desirous to help lead our denomination to embrace in the greatest degree ever the lostness of the world.”
He told about a young family at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who had quit jobs and sold their home to prepare for overseas missions service, only to be told, along with many others, that the International Mission Board did not have the funds to send them after the 2008 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions fell $9 million short of the previous year’s receipts and $29 million short of its visionary $170 million goal.
Hunt’s one-word commentary: “Unacceptable.”
“I was told in my early years to pray and tell the people,” Hunt said. “I’ve found Southern Baptists in my 33 years of pastoring to be a need-oriented people. Show them the vision, show them the lostness, and I’m telling you they will step up to the challenge.”
God gives times of economic crisis to create an opportunity to show Himself strong, Hunt added. Southern Baptists must remember the Bible’s assertion that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” and ask themselves, “What would God have me do?”
Sending more money to combat lostness must be a top priority for Southern Baptists, in the United States as well as overseas, Hunt said.
“I want to see us embrace church planting, especially in the major metropolitan centers of this nation,” Hunt said. “We will never win American to Christ until we get serious about planting churches in our major cities.”
Calling for churches to see themselves as “church-planting machines,” Hunt suggested a good place to begin with such an emphasis would be sending 10,000 church members to participate in the Crossover Orlando evangelism effort prior to the 2010 Southern Baptist Convention and have 18,000 messengers registered for the annual meeting.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.)