NASHVILLE (FBW)—As Southern Baptists debate a Feb. 22 preliminary report of its Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, little attention is being paid to what Chairman Ronnie Floyd calls Southern Baptists’ “number one need”—a “return to God in deep repentance” and to “experience a fresh wave of [the Holy] Spirit.”
About 10 pages of the 32-page “progress report” address the spiritual condition of Southern Baptists, painting a bleak picture of spiritual lethargy and relative Great Commission ineffectiveness in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination even while pointing to signs the world is on the “brink” of a “global harvest.”
“I believe with all my heart that God is calling us to return to Him now in deep repentance of our sin, in brokenness over our sin, denying our pride and selfishness and returning to God with complete humility,” Floyd said in the progress report.
Rhetoric bemoaning “our dismal baptism numbers, our declining and plateaued churches, and our economic selfishness” should “cease and the repentance personally and corporately must begin,” he said.
Although Floyd’s report gives high priority to spiritual awakening and makes a general appeal for repentance, the GCRTF offers no recommendations on how Southern Baptists can seek renewal.
Asked by Florida Baptist Witness if specific proposals concerning spiritual matters may be forthcoming, Floyd said, “absolutely,” adding the final report to be released May 3 will address these matters “more effectively.”
Floyd said “we felt we could wait on some matters” in order to permit the initial report to deal with issues “our Convention needed to be aware of and be able to respond to us about.”
That may explain why most discussion about the progress report has centered on the GCRTF’s recommendations to re-structure various aspects of denominational life.
But the GCRTF asserts Southern Baptists’ first need is a spiritual awakening, and Southern Baptist leaders interviewed by the Witness agree.
Don Whitney, associate professor of biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said while there is “much to be grateful for” there is also “much to be concerned about” in the SBC.
Whitney is the founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality and has written widely on spirituality issues.
According to Whitney, SBC seminaries are producing “record numbers of pastors who are committed to preaching the Bible and who care deeply about biblical reformation of churches,” and there is a “growing desire to return to basics such as, ‘What is the Gospel?’, ‘What is a Christian?’, and ‘What is a church?’”
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