ALBUQUERQUE (BNM) - The future of evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention depends on one “gigantic” question, Chuck Kelley said. Kelly is president emeritus of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. That question was, “Do we want God to move mightily in and through Southern Baptists more than we want anything else?” Kelly shared his comments during the second session of the New Mexico Evangelism Conference, Feb. 25. Sandia Baptist Church, Albuquerque, hosted the event.
Concluding a two-part presentation titled, “Optimistic Pessimism,” Kelley shared his understanding of the present state of evangelism in the SBC. He also offered a strategy for its future. According to Kelley, “unsettling” things are happening in the SBC.
Kelley listed three unresolved questions. One: “Should [the SBC] reformat the mission from making disciples of all nations to proclaiming God’s glory to the nations?” Two: “Do John 3:16 and related passages mean we should invite, urge, and expect every person to believe in Christ and receive eternal life?” Three: “Why does the SBC exist?” He discussed issues surrounding the three questions but did not directly answer them. However, he did suggest how to move forward.
According to Kelley, Southern Baptists are “so busy trying to figure things out [that] we’re not executing our Great Commission strategies.” The SBC “exists to strengthen and facilitate the life and work of local SBC churches and to amplify their Great Commission output,” he said.
Kelley offered three “potential next steps” for Southern Baptist evangelism. Southern Baptists must “win the children,” “disciple the students,” and “engage the adults in Kingdom work,” he said.
Kelley said, “It is crucial that we continue seeking to win our children ... to Christ before the age of 18.” He said students must learn how to share their faith, learn how to study God’s Word, and go on mission trips. And, adults need ownership in the church. “We want everyone to work toward the Kingdom goal,” he said.
Kelley also addressed several social needs, including racial reconciliation and poverty. “We need to do racial reconciliation,” he said. “We have a message that matches up with the heart cries of the world around us.”
Finally, Kelley urged attendees to “stay in the presence of God.” “Our problem has never been the absence of a plan; it has been the absence of power,” he said. While certain SBC situations may stir up pessimism, Kelley said he had chosen optimism.