by Gerald Harris
David Miller – from Heber Springs, Ark., who prefers to be known as a “Country Preacher at Large” – was scheduled to preach on Monday evening at the Georgia Baptist Convention annual session. Although he arrived in Warner Robins, circumstances beyond his control prevented him from being able to preach to the members and guests awaiting his message at Second Baptist Church.
When Georgia Baptist Convention President Mike Stone announced that Miller was not going to be able to preach as anticipated, he seized the moment, resolved the crisis, and preached what he called the “stump message” he had preached at several associational meetings. It was generally agreed that it was an anointed sermon.
Stone preached a message entitled “Reaching Generation Yet” based on Psalm 78:1-8. His three points were: (1) a duty that cannot be delegated, (2) an apathy that cannot be accepted, and (3) a priority that cannot be postponed.
Blackshear’s Emmanuel Baptist Church pastor made a passionate appeal for Georgia Baptists to reach our children and youth, and even those generations yet to come.
Stone exclaimed, “One pressing duty that we have is reaching the next generation. This duty cannot be delegated to the church, to the convention, nor to the clergy. We have tens of thousands of middle and high school students that should be trained and unleashed to reach their peers. It is a duty that cannot be delegated.
“Secondly, there is an apathy that cannot be accepted; and we will never change what we can tolerate.” The GBC president cited several statistics, one indicating that 88 percent of kids leave church after graduating from high school. Another survey revealed that 70 percent and another reported that 61 percent of kids leave church after high school.
“But the truth is that any of those who leave the church have never been in the church. They have been in children’s church and the youth services, but so often they are unfamiliar with what happens in the worship service of the church. They have never actually become a part of the church body.
“Unfortunately, the vast majority of those who leave the church get to the place where they do not believe what we believe politically, ethically, socially, or theologically. They do not have a biblical worldview.
“The Bible says, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.’”
Stone quoted Dr. Chuck Kelley, who stated, “When you can, find a picture of the Western Wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem, also called the ‘Wailing Wall.’ The large stones at the base of the wall are all that is left of God’s temple during the time of Jesus. The crowds you see are there every day. Jews and pilgrims from all over the world come to see and weep over what was lost and pray that one day all will be restored.
“Here is what we know stated as simply as I know how to state it. In times past, God has worked through our Southern Baptist churches in a mighty way. In times present God is not working in a mighty way through our churches. How are you going to respond to this? How am I going to respond to this?
“If we as a people do not repent now, only one question remains: To what wall will our children return to weep and remember the glory of what the SBC was?”
Stone concluded, “It is a priority that cannot be postponed. We have got to change this situation now, because souls are lost and going to hell.”
The outgoing president highlighted the importance reaching “generation yet” by asking his audience to imagine a house on fire. He spoke of the smoke detector sounding the alarm, the smell of smoke, and the flickering flames that could be seen in the living room.
He then asked, “What is going to be your priority? Your children? Your grandchildren? You would probably not be asking, ‘Who authorized installing this carpet? Should we stop and listen to the latest Chris Tomlin song? Should we see if the President has tweeted something recently?’
“No, you do not deal with the peripheral issues, but the prevailing urgency of your life is to save the children. We must realize that reaching the next generation is a priority that cannot be postponed.”
Mike Stone may have been a pinch hitter for David Miller, but in baseball vernacular he hit a 100-mph baseball high, far, and deep into the centerfield bleachers – a grand slam.
This article was originally published at The Christian Index.