Eight Weeks to Effective Witness Day 8: The Vital Role of Networks

Worship at the Georgia Baptist Retreat

This week I’m serving as camp pastor of sorts, but this time it’s not for a youth camp or college retreat. This time I’m serving the state staff of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, a group of about 150 leaders who serve the Southern Baptist churches across the state. I served in a role like this in Indiana many years ago. I’ve loved and appreciated these folks ever since. It’s truly a great honor to serve these precious saints and teach this week from my new book on sharing Jesus.

We need networks to share information, for accountability, for doctrinal fidelity, and for shared impact in ministry, among other reasons. I’ve happily and voluntarily served as part of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) all my adult life. I’ve also served as a guest in other groups from Pentecostal/Charistmatic to Presbyterian, and I’ve served a lot of parachurch ministries across denominational boundaries. But my tribe is the SBC.

We are sort of the 500 pound gorilla of American evangelicalism, as we are many. But we are not always mighty. And, sometimes we travel in lanes for which we are not terribly well suited. We are at our best when we

–stand on an inerrant Bible,

–focus on the fulfillment of the Great Commission, and

–show great love to one another and to the lost world we hope to reach.

We are best at sharing Christ when we do it together. Here are a few ideas on growing together as we pursue the mission:

  1. Pray for one another. Last night my old friend Thomas Hammond, president of Georgia Baptists. He brought us an encouraging word about prayer last night. Prayer has the ability to bring us to a more level place. We are only so tall when on our knees.
  2. Walk in humility. ¬†We too often are not like Jesus. We can easily care more for recognition and power than simply rejoicing in our identity in Christ. Let’s do what Paul told the Romans: Outdo one another in showing honor.
  3. Focus on the mission: if you are a pastor, leader, or in some way have influence in your tribe (in my case, in the SBC) I have two questions. First, who are you personally discipling/mentoring? Not, how big are the crowds to whom you preach or how many people do you manage. Not, how big is your house or how full is your calendar. Who are the names of people you personally seek to mentor? ¬†Second, who holds you accountable? Our men’s pastor is a biker. Tough guy. I am accountable to him. He is not impressed with how many books I’ve written or how many places I have spoken. He wants to know if I love my wife, if I am sharing my faith regularly, and praying, and reading the Bible. He wants to know if I’m doing the little things that demonstrate a life still hungry to know Jesus. If you are a leader and you don’t have that person, you either have or will pop off at some point and say something you regret, something that doesn’t help people to focus on the mission.

We are all still children, folks. Children of God, much yet to learn. Let’s encourage one another to godliness. Life is too short, hell is too hot, heaven is too glorious, and the mission too marvelous to be about something more than serving our King together for his glory. Let’s do this–together.