Editorial Introduction: Baptists On Mission -- By: Steve W. Lemke

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 05:1 (Spring 2008)
Article: Editorial Introduction: Baptists On Mission
Author: Steve W. Lemke

Editorial Introduction: Baptists On Mission

Steve W. Lemke

The marching orders for missions and evangelism came not from a human organization, but from Jesus Christ Himself. Before His ascension into heaven, Jesus gave us the Great Commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20a, HCSB). However, sometimes the church has neglected this charge. Once while teaching a New Testament survey course at a Baptist college, one of my students mistakenly labeled this passage of Scripture as “the Great Omission.” As I was moving to mark the answer as incorrect, it struck me that in fact the student’s response might unfortunately be correct far too often in the life of the church.

From its inception in 1845, one of the primary raisons d’être of the Southern Baptist Convention has been to organize to do missions and evangelism. The Charter of the SBC states that it is “being created for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the gospel.” The SBC Constitution likewise describes “the purpose of the Convention to provide a general organization for Baptists in the United States and its territories for the promotion of Christian missions at home and abroad . . . .”1

Being missional2 involves not only going “to the ends of the earth,” but also to our own equivalents of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria for the early church (Acts 1:8, HCSB). An important part of the SBC’s focus on missions and evangelism has been giving careful attention to making the city of New Orleans an important locus for missions activity. At its first meeting in Augusta, Georgia in 1845, the newly formed convention instructed its Domestic Mission Board to focus on two primary activities: to reach Native Americans and “to direct its effective attention to aid the present effort to establish the Baptist cause in the city of New Orleans.”3

This same passion for missions in New Orleans led to the creation of Baptist Bible Institute in 1917, which we now know as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In an

editorial in the Mississippi Baptist Record, the paper’s editor P. I. Lipsey stated the need for a Southern Baptist seminary to be pl...

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