While attending the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting in Houston, I heard much lamenting about the fact that baptisms in the SBC are at their lowest levels since 1948. While at the meeting, I also was clearly reminded of the reason for such low baptisms and the only way to increase them.
Let me share three encounters that clearly show the problem, and then share the only solution. Cindy works in the FedEx office located in the convention center, where the SBC held its annual meeting. I asked Cindy, “With the 5,000 plus Baptists here this week, has anyone talked to you about Jesus?” She said “No.” As it turned out, Cindy was saved 6 years ago after attempting suicide. Her life is totally changed. This was evident by the sincere smile on her face.
One of the great concerns expressed repeatedly at the annual meeting has been the sad fact that SBC baptisms are embarrassingly low. Yet in two days, no one has spoken to Cindy about The Lord. I know most people have not had a reason to go the FedEx office, but I’m sure many have.
George works in maintenance at the convention center. When I asked George if any of the thousands of Baptists at the annual meeting had asked him if he knew Jesus, he said, “No.” Even though he walked around the exhibit hall among thousands of Baptists, many of whom were preachers, he said not one person had asked him about his salvation.
I also talked with five employees in a coffee shop onsite. This coffee shop at the convention center was one of the busiest I have ever seen. Often there were 25 to 35 people standing in line. On Wednesday evening as the meeting was ending, I stopped to get a cup of coffee. When I got to the counter, there was no one behind me. So I asked them, “With all these thousands of Baptists here this week, has anyone shared with you about Jesus? They said, “No.” I then asked if I could share what Jesus had done for me.
They readily agreed and all five listened intently as I shared my story. As I got close to the end, people had once again begun to line up. I said, “You have customers waiting, I will come back.” All five said, “No, we want to hear the rest!”
Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has accurately described the SBC as a “harvest-oriented denomination in an unseeded world.” Here is the problem: few Baptists are spreading the seed of the gospel as we should.
The only solution to seeing more baptisms is for each of us, every believer, every Baptist, to be intentional about talking about Jesus to everyone we can. Our attitude cannot be, “I will witness if I get an opportunity.” Our attitude must be, “I am going to make an opportunity!”
If we don’t care enough to tell our friends, our families, our neighbors, our classmates and our co-workers about Jesus, who will? Today, share with everyone you can the story of how Jesus Christ changed your life. Share how He will change theirs if they want Him! We can turn our baptism numbers around. This is the only way to do it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dennis Nunn is founder and president of Every Believer a Witness Ministries in Dallas, Ga.)