I had intended on giving a day-by-day account of the International Baptist Network’s Global Connection Conference as it unfolded, but I’ve been so busy I’ve been unable to blog for the last several days. I want to offer some additional comments on the conference in this entry however.
Wednesday night, Dr. Billy Kim addressed the conference. We had a good crowd that night as it was the peak for the attendees of the conference and we had many Northsiders there (in spite of the fact it was Spring Break week for us). The Northside Celebration Choir and Orchestra absolutely brought the house down with their renditions of “End of the Beginning“, “He’s Alive” and “Only the Blood“. Dr. Kim is the retired pastor of one of the largest Baptist churches in Korea. A graduate of Bob Jones University in the 1950’s, his testimony was a tremendous challenge. He had a five point sermon on how the church in Korea has flourished and managed to get through “Prayer” and “Preaching” when he decided he’d preached too long and told us he’d come back to deliver the final 3 points at another time. I couldn’t believe how quickly 45 minutes had passed and really wished he had finished the sermon. His example of how their church gets up daily at 4:45 to pray together at the church was convicting and powerful. With over 13,000 members, he made sure we understood that it was a church built on prayer. The Lord has done some wonderful things in Korea in this generation and most of the world’s largest congregations are located there. Korea is one of the largest sending nations of missionaries as well. (Which makes me wonder why we are still sending Americans there, but that’s another topic.)
Thursday morning, Dr. Edison Quieroz from Sao Paulo, Brazil (where I am heading this Friday) gave a tremendous message on how we approach international missions. It had to raise the hackles of some who are locked into the outdated and traditional ways we send missionaries from US agencies these days, but it was a breath of fresh air to hear how we can get personally involved in new ways for reaching the world for Christ.
Thursday morning and later that afternoon we had our choice of workshops again, but the noon hour was reserved for a special luncheon with Dr. Jerry Falwell. Dr. Falwell had a “bug”, but joked that he had been invited to speak by Dr. John Rawlings and you just don’t stand Dr. Rawlings up when he asks you to do something.
Dr. Falwell spoke for about 45 minutes after a wonderful lunch provided to a full house by our Northside Food Services ministry. The first half of his speech dealt with the Fundamentals of the Faith. He gave us a brief history and then reiterated in no uncertain terms the commitment we must have to these non-negotiables. If anyone got wind of the controversy a month or so ago about the supremacy of Christ for salvation, you had to be encouraged (or rebuked) by his impassioned declarations of “Christ Alone” for salvation. The second half of his presentation addressed the issues that divide us and it was a great reminder that one of the reasons fundamentalism is not as influential as it should or could be in Christiandom is our proclivity for getting side-tracked onto issues of personal preference, cultural tendencies and generational obstacles. I was able to spend a few minutes personally with Dr. Falwell and I could tell that he was not feeling well at all, but you’d never have known it as he spoke to us.
Thursday night was our final service and we were ministered to by the great choir from Grace Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC where Ed Sears is the pastor. Over 100 voices and instrumentalists joined some of the Northside orchestra and the music was just terrific. Then, Dr. Johnny Hunt from the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georga delivered a fiery challenge to us that was as straight-forward and direct a call to evangelism through the church as you will ever hear. It was powerful and many came to the altar to pray and recommit to personal evangelism at the end of the service. For those who still like to sit back and criticize the Southern Baptists at every level, I would dare you to listen to his sermon with your eyes closed and recall when and where you had ever heard a more passionate and Biblical sermon on evangelism. The preaching of good Southern Baptist pastors would put what I’ve heard at many “Independent Baptist only conferences” to shame both in style and (more importantly) substance.
So what is the end of the IBN and the Global Connection Conference? Well, I think we all have a better understanding of how the IBN is going to help us connect for world evangelism in coming years. I would guess that 80% of the attendees were Independent Baptists who are weary (as in SICK OF) the spirit that has warped our meetings and movement in the last 20 years. They want to work with brothers in Christ toward reaching the world with the Gospel. We were introduced to scores of ways to get involved and any sized church from huge to small can be a part of it.
The IBN is worldwide. They had publications from 8 other nations on display at the conference. The Rawlings Foundation is setting up offices and purchasing properties around the globe to help the network get established. This is not an “American” show — it’s truly international with some of the pastors of the largest Baptist churches in the world getting involved. We American pastors have an unique opportunity to meet and learn from and partner with some great works and outreaches in the coming years. I’m encouraged and I’m committed to being part of what is going to be unfolding through the IBN in the future.
The next international conference is scheduled for Brussels, Belgium next year and Hong Kong the year after that. But there is also talk of another American meeting next year as well. I’ll keep my readers posted on that development as I learn about it. If you’d like to order CD’s or DVD’s of the IBN Conference, call 704.596.4856.
As always for more information on the IBN, go to www.ibaptist.net.
Later this week, I’m going to be addressing Lowell Davey’s (of the Bible Broadcasting Network aka BBN) decision to drop Dr. David Jeremiah’s “Turning Point” broadcasts over the issue of the use of Praise and Worship music at Dr. Jeremiah’s church. You’ll want to watch for this article.