I am a follower of Jesus and I am a disciple of Christ!” A whole-hearted AMEN to that!
But sadly, that statement is too often not connected to the idea of, “disciple-making”
Recently, one of the representatives from the Missouri Baptist Convention (Brad Bennett) came and shared with our church the definition of a disciple.
“A disciple is a follower of Jesus who is being conformed to the image of Christ; devoted in love to God and others, obedient to Christ and his mission of making disciples.”
A Disciple is on Mission with the Gospel
By definition, a disciple is on MISSION who ought to be intentionally discipling others to reach the nations.
Why? The Great Commission compels us to the task of evangelism, which is a fancy word for saying, “sharing the good news of Jesus to a lost and dying world!”
At least at the state level with the Missouri Baptist Convention (a network of 1,800 independent Southern Baptist churches that work together to carry out the Great Commission), we have been struggling in this area.
Missouri Baptist Convention of the past 10-year profile from 2012-to 2021 shows the following number of total baptisms.
In about 10 years, the number of baptisms has dropped in half. The stats show that evangelism and outreach must become the top priority for all of our churches.
How can we raise leaders who will lead others to Jesus? As a pastor leader, I want to create leaders, not just simple followers who follow instructions. I sense Jesus had this in mind as well as he trained his disciples.
With the entire evangelism debate, I sense that as pastors/leaders, we must take the initiative to build leaders who can lead to Jesus!
The Continual Decline Overall in Evangelism & Baptism
As we saw the numbers above on the state level, this sadly is true on the national level with SBC as well. The Southern Baptist Convention baptism numbers have dropped now for14th year in a row based on the latest ACP (Annual Church Profile) compiled by Lifeway Christian Resources.
I look at the platform stages and realize that the people who are leading up front (churches/conventions) are just getting older.
Despite the increase in the enrollment in the seminaries, the reality of seasoned pastors is going back for receiving additional education, and not necessarily younger generations are being raised to lead into the future.
How do we raise more pastors and missionaries? More lay leaders? More leaders in general? I believe that is the million-dollar question.
As a pastor, my prayer and desire are to see that as leaders we will create a system from national, state, local, and church to work together to build leaders to see greater number of evangelism and baptism.