INDIANAPOLIS—Tony Dungy, coach of the Indianapolis Colts, made a surprise appearance at the Monday afternoon session of the 2008 Southern Baptist Pastors Conference.
Dungy, author of the book, Quiet Strength, welcomed his fellow Southern Baptists to Indianapolis. He told the pastors God has opened doors for him to speak to numerous groups since his team won the Super Bowl two years ago.
“I realize many of our young people are really, really searching for something. For the most part they are finding those things that are not fulfilling,” Dungy said. “They are still searching for what we know is fulfilling and that is that relationship with Jesus Christ.”
He challenged his fellow Baptists to continue to deliver the message of Jesus Christ in many different ways.
“We are all on the same team,” he said. “We’re going to work for the Lord, and Christ will honor what you do.”
Turning to the conference theme of revival, Jimmy Draper, president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., admitted the topic is hard for him.
“We have not seen revival, so I know very little about it,” he said.
Draper observed a lack of passion for Christ in churches today. “Complacency surrounds our services. Deadness prevails. There is no fire in the altar. Our churches flounder in apathy while the world plunges deeper into sin.”
Draper, a former SBC president, noted that despite better training and resources, Southern Baptists baptized fewer people last year (346,000) than they did in 1950 (376,000) when the convention had only 6 million members.
Southern Baptists are reaching fewer people for Christ because “we don’t see the world through the eyes of Jesus who died for them. We don’t win the lost because we don’t like them,” he asserted.
Draper noted there is no explanation for genuine revival. “Revival comes from God and leads to God,” he said.
Revival, he continued, is a great movement of God “that cannot be explained by anything that we do. It is an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit.”
Conditions are right for revival, Draper observed, citing the evil, spiritual decline, and apathy in the churches that are found today. “It is in times like these that God sends revival,” Draper said.
He noted that history has shown that most revivals have not begun in a pastors’ conference, Rather, he said, revivals began when laypersons, young people began to pray.
“Christianity is never more powerful than when a passionate unity prevails among believers.”
Simply put, Draper said, revival begins with a passion for the presence of God.
“That is missing today,” he observed.
Southern Baptist evangelist Bill Stafford of Chattanooga, Tenn., observed: “We need a revival of getting back to the word of God. Let it speak for itself. God doesn’t need our help.”
Stafford reminded pastors they have nothing to fear if they will just “preach the word.”
Christians are called to march against the world, he observed. “We are to be lighthouses marching against the darkness, but it must be upon the basis of the inerrant word of God.”
Repentance is the key to revival, said James McDonald, senior pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
“Repentance is the funnel through which revival flows,” McDonald said.
He defined repentance as “a recognition of sin … followed by heart-felt sorrow, culminating in a change of behavior.”
McDonald cited several characteristics of genuine revival.
• Grief over sin. “We want people to feel grief over sin,” he said, challenging pastors to “preach the biblical message of repentance and to call them to holiness.”
• Repulsion toward sin. “Repentance allows you to get to the place to what once aroused you now repulses you.”
• Restitution toward others. “it is an energetic pursuit of fixing the fallout from sin — to make it right with the people you injured.”
Repentance can only come from God, McDonald stressed. “God grants repentance. It is a gift.”
During the business session of the Pastor’s Conference, Ed Litton, senior pastor of First Baptist North Mobile in Mobile, Ala., was elected president, succeeding Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Ga.
Other officers include Bruce Schmidt, pastor of Lamar Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, vice president, and James Peoples, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights, Fla., secretary-treasurer.