By David Lee, BCMD Executive Director
There are times when I don’t like what is happening around me. And then there are times that I do. There are times like waves that carry us to where we need to go. Other times we feel the force of the “tsunami” carrying away from us things that are precious. There are times that test us and times that prove we are right where we need to be.
I feel at times like I am on a roller coaster. And the last thing I want to do is ride a roller coaster. In fact, on Thunder Mountain at DisneyWorld many years ago, I promised God that if he would just let me hit bottom and allow me to walk away from that ride without losing my stomach or my heart, I would never again get on a roller coaster. Promise kept! Sometimes, however, life doesn’t give you that choice. You are there, and you either hold on for dear life, or you find a way to enjoy the ride.
With all that said, amidst the changes that are swirling in Baptist circles these days, there are parts of this ride that I believe are worthwhile and can even be exhilarating. Many words have been spoken and written recently about our direction as Baptists. Yet, there are two words that I believe can become rallying points around which each of us can surge or re-surge toward the accomplishment of the Great Commission. Those two words are “penetrating lostness.” Expect to hear those words often in the short term as we move forward together as Southern Baptists. That concept will drive our strategy, as it should.
It leads to two important questions. The first is this. What are the largest pockets of lostness in our Maryland/Delaware region? I addressed our General Mission Board recently giving the short answer to that question.
I identified five pockets. I share them with you in reverse order as to the degree of challenge I think each represents to us based on numbers of churches and resources targeted in the direction of each of these pockets.
No. 5 on my list is our bedroom communities. This is where most of our churches and resources presently exist.
No. 4 is our pocket of language and cultural diversity. Our convention is one of the most diverse in the nation. This is a growing area of our cooperative work, yet there is so much to be done just to keep up with the ever-expanding population.
No. 3 is our college and university campuses. On each campus in Maryland/Delaware, the larger majority of the students do not have personal relationships with Jesus Christ. We need more missionaries on these campuses and more churches that see this as part of their “Jerusalem” ministries.
No. 2 is the poor and hurting in our communities. Some of our national leaders have suggested that we need to target more resources to reach the “underserved.” That term fits no group better than those who not only struggle economically, but deal daily with deep-seeded feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
The No. 1 pocket of lostness in our region is our cities. The reason why the cities most represent lostness is because from Baltimore to Wilmington to Silver Spring to Cumberland our cities are comprised of concentrated pockets of each of the other four. Going forward together, if we intend to penetrate lostness in Maryland/Delaware, we must strategically target our praying, our going and our resources in these five pockets and in this order.
The second question is this. Where are the major pockets of lostness in the area where you live and go to church, and what is your strategy for penetrating those pockets of lostness? I can think of no more important discussion in your next business meeting than an open and honest response to these questions.
Understand, I am an Acts 1:8 guy. I know that some of the greatest pockets of lostness are to be found in the “uttermost parts of our earth.” We are not exempt from taking the Gospel there as well. That means that we must include this in any discussion about penetrating lostness.
Here is the chief question on my mind these days. What are we going to do cooperatively as Maryland/Delaware Baptists to penetrate the lostness in our world starting with Jerusalem, expanding to Judea, not neglecting Samaria, considering our mandate to make disciples of all the nations? Now that is a Baptist conversation I look forward to having with you.