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Boots or ballots


When God’s people get their priorities right they might well get in a position to experience revival. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force has challenged Southern Baptists, our churches, our agencies, and our Convention to penetrate the lostness of our world. That will happen not because we have adopted a report or passed a resolution, but when we have experienced a genuine revival.

Revivals don’t just happen. They only come at a great cost. Revivals are always preceded by humility, prayer that goes beyond mere petition all the way to an intimate communion with God (seeking His face), and genuine repentance.

When genuine revival comes things will change drastically. For example, what would happen if thousands of revived pastors, denominational leaders, church staffers, and laypersons converged upon Orlando with a passion for souls burning in their hearts?

When the 120 disciples exited that upper room to confront the people of Jerusalem in Acts 2 the Bible says that the people of Jerusalem “were all amazed.” When the people of the city saw these spirit-filled disciples and heard their witness they asked two questions: “What meaneth this?” and “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The result was the conversion of 3,000 souls, the birth of the early Church, and the exponential spread of the Gospel.

On April 26 Baptist Press reported, “Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt has issued a God-sized challenge for 10,000 Baptists to volunteer for Crossover Orlando 2010 on Saturday, June 12.”

FBC Woodstock staff member Bill Plymale recently indicated that their church could have more than 250 of their members participating in the Crossover effort. What Hunt has urged other churches to do he is leading his church to do, so Woodstock’s First Baptist Church will be a pacesetter in the Crossover Orlando effort.

If 10,000 people showed up to witness during the Crossover effort in Orlando and if their success was proportionate to the success of the early disciples in Acts 2 and if the preaching was as powerful as Peter’s sermon you could expect 250,000 converts.

Crossover is an evangelistic effort to send the spiritual infantry into a city to win the lost. It is a matter of getting “boots on the ground” for the purpose of impacting the Convention city with the Gospel. Orlando is a city of 2.1 million people, many of whom are in need of Christ’s saving grace.

The first crossover was in 1989 in Las Vegas during the height of the Conservative Resurgence when getting back to the basics of biblical inerrancy and evangelistic fervency was being emphasized.

There is an interesting phenomenon that seems to be developing as we draw near to this year’s SBC annual meeting. The interesting development is that while Convention pre-registration is up over last year by more than 100 percent (3,201 compared to last year’s 1,576) Crossover commitments are flat or slightly down.

Why would messengers flock to this year’s Convention and potentially double the number of messengers registered last year? And why would there be less people committed to be participants in the Crossover evangelistic outreach this year than last year?

First, Orlando is an attractive venue for messengers because there are so many other attractions in the area that are appealing to families. Some messengers will come early or stay after the Convention to get in some family vacation days.

The last annual meeting in Orlando was in 2000 when 11,951 messengers were present. That is more messengers than any Convention has registered since 1997 and is significantly higher than the number of messengers in attendance for the last two conventions. The number of messengers registered for the 2008 Convention in Indianapolis was 7,277 and the number registered in Louisville last year was 8,795. So people just like going to Disney World – I mean Orlando.

Second, the presidential race is attracting a lot of attention. There are three viable candidates who are capable and worthy of serious consideration. Some have suggested that Jimmy Jackson will appeal to those involved in the Conservative Resurgence and many grassroots Southern Baptists as suggested by the recent endorsement of the SBC Majority Initiative.

Ted Traylor, who is a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF), will likely appeal to those who believe the Task Force recommendations will help us achieve our great destiny as a mission-minded Convention.

Bryant Wright, whose pastorate at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church has been remarkable, will likely appeal to many of the younger messengers and emerging church leaders. Other nominations may be forthcoming, but these three candidates should draw quite a crowd and the balloting for president should be one of the Convention highlights.

Third, the Task Force Report has been the subject of much discussion and debate for months and their recommendations will be presented to the Convention on Tuesday afternoon at 2:45.

In unveiling their report the members of the Task Force have thrown down the gauntlet. The advocates of the report are amassing their forces. The opponents of the Task Force have sent forth their clarion call for the troops to march on Orlando in June. They are drawing their swords and appear to be ready for battle. Ultimately, the battle will be won or lost with the casting of the ballot.

The sad and unfortunate truth is that we seem to be more motivated to get our ballots in the box than our boots on the ground. Similarly, the United States Congress may vote for the nation to go to war, but we must depend upon young men and women to volunteer to join the military and engage the enemy.

We are often passionate about being engaged in our discussions, our critiques, our opinions, our deliberations, our resolutions, our recommendations, our debates, and our votes, but perhaps not nearly as passionate about becoming a part of the Lord’s infantry in a “boots on the ground” campaign to reach the unreached with the Gospel.

We can vote to accept the GCR Task Force recommendations, but who will actually get on the front lines of the battle and push back the darkness here at home? Are we more willing to fund missionaries abroad than become missionaries where we live? The answer is not in rhetoric, rebuttals, restructuring, or recommendations, but revival.