Leaders say repentance, prayer will 'awaken' NC Baptistsby C. Walter Overman
Next month during the Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) North Carolina Baptists will be challenged to respond to a call for spiritual awakening and a return to personal holiness. This year’s annual meeting is an opportunity for individuals and churches to be reminded that the time is urgent; believers must share the gospel with people who do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior while there is still time.
Recently, church and BSCNC leaders shared their thoughts on the reality of spiritual decline and what the church must do in order to reverse the trends.
Stephanie Mills, women’s ministry coordinator at Faith Baptist Church in Youngsville, said the church can no longer afford to turn away from the obvious signs of spiritual decline.
“We cannot do business as usual any longer. Spiritual awakening will not happen until we have awareness of what Scripture says and are committed to it because we love Jesus and we live for His glory,” she said.
Mills attributes spiritual decline in part to the church’s failure to promote a complete biblical worldview. “I think it is easy for those of us who have grown up in the Bible belt to assume that everyone knows how to think biblically, but they don’t,” she said. “People don’t understand what a biblical worldview looks like.”
She believes that an incomplete biblical worldview among believers in recent decades has resulted in a general apathy toward soul winning and the acceptance of sinful choices and lifestyles within the church.
Mills suggests that believers can cultivate a biblical worldview and help bring about spiritual awakening by devoting themselves to God’s Word, prayer and building intentional relationships with people who need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Above all, local churches need to make repentance a priority.
“It is sin when we don’t care about a world around us that’s hurting and dying and going to hell,” she said. “Repent and recognize it as sin.”
Sammy Joo, BSCNC senior consultant for international campus ministry, said God’s people must be awakened to the reality that many people outside the church are seeking spiritual truth.
“There are lots of people who don’t know Christ and the church needs to be awakened to see the spiritual need and spiritual hunger in the community,” he said. “There is a great opportunity, but if the church is not awakened, if we just remain inside our circle, then we will miss the opportunity.”
Joo is praying for a return to gospel-centered preaching among all North Carolina Baptists, as this is the “fundamental way to break the hearts of people.”
Joo is also praying that churches will unite in praying for revival, and that all North Carolina Baptists will commit to making Christ known in their homes, work places and communities. If believers are not faithful in these areas they cannot expect the Holy Spirit to bring change. “It all starts inside of the church and then it can grow outside,” Joo said. “I believe the Holy Spirit will bring revival and great awakening in the church and then it will impact outside the church.”
Mike Pittman, pastor of Vertical Church in Lumberton, is concerned for the future of the nation and prays revival will come to North Carolina and spread throughout the nation.
“Our state and country are at a crucial point where we will either turn back to Jesus in a mass way or we will end up going the route of other nations who have taken a secularized route turning from God,” he said.
Echoing the sentiments of Mills and Joo, Pittman said revival must begin in the church, with a focus toward repentance. “We must repent. If we want to see spiritual decline reversed it begins with us,” he said. “We must quit focusing on the sin in the world and begin to address the sin in the church.”
Pittman challenged North Carolina Baptists to first focus on Jesus and His holiness, instead of focusing on the ills of society.
“If the true holiness of Jesus flows from the church it will manifest itself in powerful movements in our communities, our state, our nation and ultimately the world.”
Please note the change of location: The annual meeting will be held Nov. 12-13 at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Special Events Center.
North Carolina Baptists across the state are participating in the “Pray for 30 Days” Challenge. To get involved in praying for the annual meeting and for spiritual awakening, visit www.ncannualmeeting.org.