The supremacy of the Gospel will motivate J.D. Greear as he leads Southern Baptists to evangelize, plant churches and mobilize college students for the Kingdom, he told Southern Baptist executives Sept. 17 in Nashville.
“It is the Gospel that is the source of our renewal, and it is the Gospel that should be our defining characteristic as a people,” Greear said in his first presidential address to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee at its fall meeting. “(The Gospel) should be what people think about and talk about when they think and talk about us.”
Empowering cultural diversity, engaging the next generation in cooperative missions and preventing sexual abuse are also among his goals, said Greear, pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
Contentious debates that go beyond unifying characteristics of the Gospel will not direct his work, he told the EC and guests gathered, including state leaders and executive staff.
“Our disagreement on finer points of theology should not tear apart our unity in the Gospel,” Greear said. “Calvinism is never an issue to me…. I can assure you that what is not biblical is sitting around bickering about finer points of theology when people are lost and going to hell.
“I agree with (former SBC president) Johnny Hunt. I do not know all there is to know about the particulars of Calvinism,” Greear quipped, “but what I do know is that the more I go and share Christ, the more people seem to keep getting elected.”
Greear stated his presidential theme as the “Gospel Above All,” and expressed a desire to reflect on the Gospel “again and again” during his term.
He presented one of his newest initiatives since his June election, the pledge to appoint a Sexual Abuse Advisory Study, as a Gospel issue rather than a reaction to current events and political whims.
“Our churches really ought to be known as the safest places on the planet for the vulnerable. Isn’t that at least the heart, the most basic thing of our Gospel,” Greear noted, “when Jesus says come unto Me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest?
“Practically speaking, clarity on this issue is critical to evangelism in the next era,” Greear said. “If the next generation does not believe that our churches are a safe place,” he said, paraphrasing EC member Bill Prince, “then they won’t come to our churches nor to what we do…. If they don’t come to our churches, they will probably never learn to trust Jesus as their Savior.”
The study, which he is still forming, will have a rotating membership that keeps the group alive for years, he said, likely continuing past his presidency. Greear gave overviews of his agenda items.
Who Is Your One?
Greear will launch the “Who Is Your One?” personal evangelism initiative in January 2019, he said, encouraging churches to use their own style and personality in encouraging each church member to intentionally share the Gospel and build relationship with one person over the course of a year.
At The Summit Church, Greear said, Who Is Your One includes the church member standing in the baptismal with the person they brought to Christ when the new believer is baptized.
“A Home Depot approach” is how Greear terms his style of expressing shared goals and encouraging churches to respond through individual leadership in the power of the Gospel. “You can do it; we can help.”
Greear noted the worth and value of state conventions and associations. He noted those leaders are most aware of the individuality of churches and regions. And he has met with state convention executives whom he described as already doing many of the things he hopes to encourage.
“I’ve told them that they are the ones who most likely will be doing these things after I have finished serving as president,” Greear said. “They are also the ones who will lead out on these things on local levels. They are the ones who will figure out what these things need to look like in churches in their particular region.”
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Source: Baptist Press