From our beginning in 1845, Southern Baptists have been known for our commitment to the Great Commission. The gospel is meant to be global and Southern Baptists have believed that truth from our beginnings. As I have sat under preaching and listened to presentations from both the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) the past two days in Baltimore for the Southern Baptist Convention, I am struck by at least two common themes.
First, the lostness of our world is still vast after two thousand years of Christianity. The major cities of our country are increasingly diverse and desperately lost. Added to our own cities in the US is the reality of the world’s lostness. With about 7 billion people in our world, many missiologists believe that at least 1 billion will never have the opportunity to hear of the life changing message of Jesus. Over 6,000 people groups are unreached by the gospel, which amounts to billions of people who do not know that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Second, as our world’s population and lostness increases greatly, the answer to reaching the world is not found in money (alone). While our dollars do make a difference as we pool our resources together for gospel advancement, money alone will not reach the billions of lost people in our world. As one state convention executive director said recently, “We will never buy our way out of lostness.” We must mobilize every Jesus follower for gospel advancement. Yes, let’s give more for the sake of gospel impact, but let’s mobilize even more in order to gain ground on the swelling number of lost people in our world.
Pauls’ word to a young pastor is still the answer for the 21st century church: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). What our churches must understand is that the Great Commission is not for a select few, but for every Jesus follower. Jesus calls every would-be follower to follow Him and then He will make us fishers of men (Matt 4:19). So, let us as Southern Baptists follow and then fish. May we run hard after Jesus, and in so doing, fish for men and women from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev 5:9).
Pastors, preach the reality of the world’s lostness, but don’t stop there. Preach the call for every Jesus follower to become a fisher of men. Preach the necessity of every believer to take the gospel to a world in desperate need of the Savior. Mobilize every congregation to go across the street, throughout the country, and around the world with the gospel. Only until we mobilize everyone will gospel impact indeed be among every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.