Last week we read Part 2 of a conversation between OneCry National Director Randy Hekman and Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Here is the third of four excerpts of their conversation, focused on the need for followers of Christ to be sharing the gospel with those who don’t know Him.
Randy: You have put out a clarion call to Southern Baptist pastors and members around the nation for a Great Awakening. How are people responding to this call?
Dr. Floyd: I was with a group of ladies last week, almost 100 of them from all over the country, and without question there was real resolve and commitment and understanding that our greatest need is a mighty move of God in this country. That we do know, and we are relying on that. We need it more than anything, and it could completely change our agenda.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do what we’re doing now. We need to strategize and get after reaching the world. The reason we want revival to come to the church, and for the country to be awakened spiritually, is so we can complete the Great Commission.
We need fresh power to do that. We need American Christianity to wake up from sleep and get with it to reach the world with the gospel.
When Jonathan Edwards issued the call in the 1740s, it was not so all of us could sit around and look at ourselves and just ponder about how we can be more godly. We always know we can be more godly, but he did it “for the revival of religion and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom on this earth.” That is what we must be committed to.
Randy: Recently on your website I noticed a new program for Southern Baptists to share the gospel with someone on October 14. Where did that idea come from?
Dr. Floyd: It came from our collegiate campuses involved in our Baptist Collegiate Ministries organization.
About a month ago, I wrote an article talking about the need to reach college students. We have 22 million college students in this country, and I think it is one of the most lost, unchurched people groups in the country, and sometimes absolutely overlooked. We need to do everything we can to reach college students for Christ.
I learned from our college ministry that there is a major movement in this direction already. Over the last two or three years, they devote one day a year, October 14, to mobilize college students to share Christ with someone.
They call it Engage 24, and over a 24-hour period of time, they engage someone with the gospel. So we decided to give it a try with all of our Southern Baptist churches.
It’s not that we don’t or shouldn’t share the gospel every day; we know we should. But I think we should actually have a day when we say, “Let’s all try to share the Lord on this day” … where we have a little more accountability about that. I think the real point is that it gives us a moment of intentionality to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Randy: The first time you share the gospel with someone is probably the hardest. My hope would be that as people take that challenge and share the gospel that day, they find out, “That wasn’t so bad,” and then the next time is that much easier.
In Acts 4, after some persecution, the apostles and followers of Christ got together and prayed for a number of things—for the Holy Spirit, but also for boldness in sharing the gospel and spreading the Word. And that’s what God gave. He shook the house, they were filled with the Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.
Do you think the American Church needs more boldness now to share our faith with others regularly?
Dr. Floyd: Well, there’s no question that the church today needs courage and compassion in order to share the gospel effectively. I think that is a must.
Satan tries to scare us that no one will receive the Lord, or they all hate Christians. But the thing that would probably surprise a lot of us is that many Americans are actually open to the gospel. So we need to talk about it. We just have to be willing to step out there in the midst of a dark world and try to hold forth the light of Jesus Christ.
People don’t think about this, but do you remember when Nicodemus came to Jesus in John chapter 3? He came because he wanted understanding. Jesus helped him gain an understanding of the gospel.
But it isn’t until John 19, after Jesus had been killed on the cross, that we learn that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus helped take care of Jesus’ dead body. At that point Nicodemus announced his discipleship and his commitment to Christ.
So we have to be willing to engage people at all levels in the gospel. Apologetics is not new. It’s what Jesus did. He took a Jewish leader and helped him come to faith through what He taught him.
Come back next week to read the final part of this conversation.