The tougher areas of discernment in ministry are not between what is obviously good and what is obviously bad. The tougher calls happen when two good and biblical ideals seem to be competing with each other. In those moments, we are tempted to pick a side to resolve the tension. Many ministry leaders do this with gusto, and they gather great crowds at conferences arguing for their “side.” But what makes for a great conference speaker isn’t always what makes for a real ministry leader. The moment we pick a side in a godly tension, we lose.
William Carey once said that the future is always as bright as the promises of God. When I think of the future of the SBC, I believe that the Holy Spirit has great days ahead. If we believe Christ’s promises, heed the voice of the Holy Spirit, turn from our sin, and cast ourselves upon the mercy of his grace, the gates of hell will not stand a chance.
You don’t have to know the best words for each situation. Sometimes simply how you pray—sad and heartbroken—might be all that is really needed. Simply acknowledging to God, in front of your children, that things aren’t as easy for our brothers and sisters of color can raise some great conversations. It sets the context for race conversations in our kids’ minds. After all, I’d much rather stumble through my words with them than trust society to do it for me.
We need the institutions of the SBC. And we need the next generation to get involved in them—in the associations, in state and national conventions, and in all the entities they support. We at the Summit have tried to follow the examples of others in this, as we’ve gotten more involved in our association in the past few years. I’ve heard it said that decisions in our Convention, at every level, are made by those who choose to show up. For those of us who have led the SBC in mission, it’s time for us to encourage others to “show up” in our Convention.
This month we are commissioning the 1,000th Summit Church member to go out with one of our church planting teams, many of those having been compelled by our challenge to college seniors to spend the first two years of their lives after graduation on mission for the gospel. Dream about this: What would it look like if every Southern Baptist college student accepted this challenge and pursued the first two years of his or her career in conjunction with a Southern Baptist church plant? Can you imagine the catalyst this would provide for church planting?
Church planting is no substitute for evangelizing and disciple-making; it’s just the best facilitator for it. New churches are, statistically speaking, the most effective means for bringing in new believers. Of course, in a Convention with more than 46,000 churches, revitalization is an urgent need as well. I believe the two go hand-in-hand. In fact, I believe this because of the experience of our own church. You see, ours is a revitalization story, not a church planting one. Long before the Summit was known for being a church that sends, it was a church that desperately needed a fresh breath of new life.