Baptist 21 is grateful for Pastor Johnny Hunt’s preaching passion, personal evangelism, and missions focus. We are excited about his leadership within the SBC, especially in his new role as President. We are energized about his term and the direction that he hopes to take the SBC. Here are some excerpts that give a taste of what he hopes that future will be from an article in SBC Life entitled “My Hope and Prayer for the Southern Baptist Convention.” (This article is a must read)
“Jesus prayed that His followers would be unified so that the world may know You sent Me (John 17:23). That prayer is desperately needed for our Convention today. I will never forget Dr. Adrian Rogers’ Convention message, “Unity in Diversity,” during the early days of the Conservative Resurgence. We are once again in need of being reminded that we can do far more together than we can do alone. We are in need of unity; we must major on that which unites us and keep our distance from that which divides us. If not, what’s at stake? The world will find it difficult to believe the Gospel, namely, that God sent Jesus Christ! We are many members but one body (1 Corinthians 12:12). And in the SBC we are part of a denominational family — a group of people with a common confession and a common mission. As the Southern Baptist Convention determines together to turn the tide of decline and embraces God’s heart for the nations, let’s all rise to the occasion of coming together for His great glory and the Convention’s greater good. I, for one, am ready for a change — a positive change that calls us to build on our Conservative Resurgence and focus on building great churches, evangelizing the unsaved, reclaiming the wayward, taking the Gospel to the lost and the least, starting new churches, and sending several thousand new missionaries to the unengaged, unreached people groups of the world.”
Pastor Hunt lists three things he would like to attempt to change during his time as our President.
First, “I want us to bring the next generation of young leaders into an active participation in our Convention.” Pastor Hunt says, “Simply put, it is not working to ‘welcome’ them and not ‘affirm’ them. We have to acknowledge that many people are doing church differently in many contexts right here — we must acknowledge that you do not have to travel to Africa to find a different culture.” Baptist21 hopes to celebrate this kind of diversity as well and is encouraged to follow President Hunt’s vision here. It is our hope that more would cooperate and fewer would leave the SBC, so that we can on the widest scale possible engage our cities, states, countries, and the world with the Gospel of King Jesus.
Second, “I would like to increase attendance at our SBC annual meeting, beginning with Louisville, Kentucky. People have been voting with their feet, and they increasingly are voting that the Convention does not matter. Yet, I believe that the SBC should serve as our pre-game pep rally. It should be two of the most exciting days that we can possibly create. It should be a time of vision-casting.” Baptist21 gives a hearty “amen” to this hope. While there may be elements at annual conventions that do not resonate with the younger generation, the annual meeting is a time for us to meet and learn from those that are serving the Lord in many different areas and to see that cooperation allows us to do something “big” that we could never do on our own.
Third, “we need to increase Cooperative Program giving — increase our support to see our churches strengthened, churches planted, ministers trained, and missionaries mobilized to assist in reaching North America and every nation in the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It is the hope of Baptist21 that God uses the SBC for His greater glory, the good of the nations, and the kingdom of His Son and not our own glory. We believe the CP is one of the best ways to do this, but the CP is a means, not the end. Pastor Hunt puts it well, “The SBC is the tool; the Gospel is the goal.”
“Please pray for me and all of our leadership as we join our hearts and hands in UNITY, based on a common confession and biblical fidelity, but a unity for His name sake!” Let us pray for Pastor Hunt, other denominational leaders, and our denomination not for the sake of the name SBC, but for the sake of a gospel focused cooperative effort that can bring the King to the Nations and the nations to the King.
Baptist21 wants to give full support to Johnny Hunt. We believe that Johnny Hunt can lead us to some of the conversations we want to have and in a direction that we want to go. It is our hope that this type of leadership will lead to greater cooperation among Baptist both younger and older, so that we can as our first brothers said in May of 1845, “elicit, combine and direct the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.”
From a “Southern state” perspective I think his statement:
“We have to acknowledge that many people are doing church differently in many contexts right here — we must acknowledge that you do not have to travel to Africa to find a different culture”
is going to hit home for many that have been preaching this from the pulpit for years. Understanding this statement and allowing the Spirit to work is the next step for some Churches in the deep South (especially those elders that are seemingly fixed on tradition). To see President Hunt even mention the idea of breaking “tradition” is welcomed by me. I can’t wait to see how he will proceed from here and maintain the focus on the points mentioned – especially this one.
“We have to acknowledge that many people are doing church differently in many contexts right here — we must acknowledge that you do not have to travel to Africa to find a different culture.” I am smelling what Pastor Johnny is stewing without a doubt. One can conform to an unchanging Gospel and be creative in the way one applies it to a given context. That seems like a simple thing for many, but for some, separating theology from certain “tried and true” methods or styles is hard. This is a quote worth repeating.