Southern Baptists Proclaim the Gospel Through Evangelism and Missions
At the heart of our mission is the compelling urgency to proclaim the Gospel to everyone. The BF&M summarizes the biblical expectation this way:
“Is is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the Gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the Gospel of Christ.” (BF&M, Article XI, Evangelism and Missions).
In keeping with that commitment, Southern Baptist churches report their number of baptisms each year through a voluntary reporting form called the Annual Church Profile.
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, cooperating Southern Baptist churches reported more than four million baptisms in the United States. Southern Baptist International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries reported that they and the national Baptist partners with whom they work in more than one hundred countries reported another five million baptisms around the world.
This averages about one baptism every thirty-five seconds for each day of each year during the entire decade. While this is a tremendous cause for celebration, in comparison to the darkness of the world, there is much to be accomplished in our cooperative efforts to advance the cause of Christ through sharing the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In addition, Southern Baptists are committed to starting new churches to reach the growing populations of our country and the world. The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) has set a goal to see a net gain of five thousand new congregations (churches and church-type missions) in the United States and Canada during the decade ending in 2022. This would be an increase of more than 10 percent in the number of Southern Baptist congregations cooperating together to penetrate the lostness on the North American continent.
The Gospel truly is Good News, and Southern Baptists are passionate in our commitment to share that Good News until the Lord returns.
Southern Baptists Demonstrate the Gospel through Compassion
Southern Baptist take seriously the Lord’s example of compassion and His command to love and care for the needy (John 3:16; Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 25:31-46). The BF&M summarizes the biblical expectation this way:
“Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ… We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick” (BF&M, Article XV, The Christian and the Social Order).
Southern Baptist churches across the nation demonstrate God’s compassion to the needy in their communities as part of their standard, ongoing ministry:
- a church in rural Arkansas sponsors a food pantry and clothing closet in a small town;
- a church in metro New Orleans actively supports the local crisis pregnancy center and provides for the needs of pregnant young girls;
- a church in Lower Manhattan sponsors a soup kitchen on Wednesday nights and offers free lunches in the park on Saturdays for the needy;
- a church in San Francisco ministers directly to homeless street people
Whether it’s through free medical services, offering classes in English as a second language, or helping a local family with rent or utilities, Southern Baptist churches throughout the land actively reflect God’s love and compassion in their communities. In fact, the width and breadth of Southern Baptist ministries of compassion are as expansive as the United States itself, for Southern Baptists minister in every part of this nation, and such ministries are the norm for Southern Baptists.
On a national level, Southern Baptist efforts to extend that compassion are reflected in the following ministry expressions:
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams respond to fires, ice storms, tornadoes, damaging winds, hurricanes, and flooding across the United States. SBDR is one of the three largest relief organizations in America and includes flood cleanup efforts and long-term rebuilding in the wake of flooding. Southern Baptist volunteers prepare most of the meals distributed by the American Red Cross, as well as provide additional vital disaster services. Southern Baptists have more than 1,550 mobile disaster response units on call for local, state, and national emergencies, with more than one hundred thousand trained volunteers scattered across the nation.
Global Hunger Relief receives and disburses designated contributions from individuals in local Baptist churches during the year. All contributions to the fund are divided 80 percent to overseas hunger relief and 20 percent to domestic hunger relief. Fifty-six million dollars was contributed and disbursed during the past decade. Since Southern Baptists’ unified budget (the Cooperative Program) provides administrative costs to the entities of the Convention, every dollar raised through Global Hunger Relief goes directly to meet human hunger needs. In addition to food given and poverty issues addressed through thousands of projects in hundreds of countries, many of the world’s neediest people have also been introduced to Jesus as the Bread of Life for their impoverished souls.
How and Where Southern Baptists Advance the Gospel
Southern Baptist churches across the nation begin their ministries in their own neighborhoods to reach their local communities with the Gospel; but they don’t stop there. The strength of Southern Baptist work is found in their voluntary cooperation to work together to advance an aggressive global vision while maintaining a strong home base of ministry fruitfulness.
Cooperating together is not a new idea. The Apostle Paul applauded churches in the New Testament that pooled their resources for Kingdom purposes (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 16-24; 11:8). The BF&M summarizes the biblical pattern of cooperation this way:
“Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and convention as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom” (BF&M, Article XIV. Cooperation)
Why Southern Baptists Do What They Do
The answer to the why we do what we do is simple — Southern Baptists proclaim and minister the Gospel because the love of Christ compels us to do so (2 Corinthians 5:14).
God loved us enough to send His one and only Son to pay the penalty for our sins. Whoever believes in Him has eternal life (John 3:16). In response to the love He has lavished on us, we are called to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12-17).
Jesus summarized this truth in what is called the Great Commandment — Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).
We know the Way to have our sins forgiven and to have a right relationship with God; the Way to be redeemed from our sin and delivered from its consequences; the Way to have eternal life — not just forever in heaven, but the fullest life possible — the life of knowing Him (John 17:3) and knowing Him (Philippians 3:10). That Way is Jesus (John 14:6). Love compels us to share the Good News of His love and extend the offer of His forgiveness with as many as possible.