KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Fred Luter Jr. discussed his goals with more than 100 Kansas City-area pastors and denominational workers after delivering a chapel message at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., on Sept. 11.
Luter said he plans to be an advocate for spiritual revival, essential to the SBC’s success, in comments at a luncheon co-hosted by Midwestern and the Blue River-Kansas City, the Clay Platte and the Kansas City Kansas Baptist associations, attended by area pastors and various staff members.
“It all starts with revival. Revival starts in the pulpit, with the preachers,” Luter said. “You can’t expect revival in the pew if it doesn’t first happen in the pulpit. So we need pastors and congregations to call out for revival … then let’s watch God do what He does best in this convention.”
Greater African American involvement in SBC life, increased financial giving and the retention of young people in church bodies are also Luter’s goals.
Photo by T. Patrick Hudson
Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo (Mo.) Baptist Church interacts with Fred Luter Jr. following a luncheon where the new SBC president outlined several goals for his tenure as convention president.
“But I’m not just going to appoint you to a position because you’re African American,” he said. “You have to participate and get involved – in your association, state and in the national convention. You’ve got to be present.”
Luter is asking all churches to increase their Cooperative Program (CP) giving by 1 percentage point of their budget.
“You’d be amazed at the number of missionaries we can put on the field, the number of churches we can plant, and the number of students we can train if all of our churches give just 1 more percent to the CP.”
Luter said he also will consider Cooperative Program giving when making appointments.
“You’ve got to be able to give,” he said. “Don’t just have your hands out saying, ‘What can I get from the association?’ We’re asking you to give a percentage of your tithes and offerings to the convention, your local associations and your state convention.”
Regarding the retention of young people in the SBC, Luter said the message of Jesus Christ doesn’t change but the methods to reach younger generations must change.
“There’s no way we can reach this iPad, iPhone, and iPod generation with eight-track ministry,” Luter said. “We’ve got to change some methods to reach them.”
Luter, senior pastor of New Orleans’ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, made Midwestern the first stop on the SBC president’s traditional seminary tour.
“Our nation is in trouble,” Luter said in his chapel message.
“And the question of the hour is: ‘What is it going to take to change things in America?’” he asked, answering his question with the theme of his message, “The Transforming Power of the gospel,” drawn from Romans 1:16-17.
Providing a long list of society’s ungodly behavior, Luter said it is all part of the world that every believer participated in prior to their acceptance of Christ as Savior.
“What did it take to change you?” he asked the audience. “You had someone share the gospel of Jesus Christ with you…and you accepted it and were saved! Your life was transformed by the power of the gospel. And if God can change you, and you, and me, then why can’t God change them?”
In describing the transforming power of the gospel, Luter noted the gospel is personal, powerful, practical and persistent.
“The Word of God is the only thing I know that can penetrate years of sin and save the lost soul. That’s powerful!”
The gospel’s practicality, he said, means it can be accepted by anyone.
“No matter your race, culture or heritage, it’s practical for everyone. If you’re red, white, black or brown, you can receive the gospel. If you speak English, Spanish, French, German or Ebonics, you can receive the gospel!”
There’s no factor in life that the gospel cannot overcome, he said, because the blood of Jesus covers it all and that makes the gospel practical for everyone.
“No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve gone through, you can always depend on the gospel. Oh my brothers and sisters, God’s Word is crucial if we’re going to transform our culture, society, states and cities. God’s Word will continue to exist when everything else in life has failed – it is persistent. What America needs is the Word of God!”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)