Wilburn urges Baptists ‘out of the cave’comment (1)
November 21, 2013
By Grace Thornton
"I stand before you this morning a concerned pastor.”
Kevin Wilburn’s words opened a convention sermon that capped two and a half days’ worth of messages that took Alabama Baptists back to the basics and addressed the nation’s moral decline.
“We are in a battle for the soul of the church,” said Wilburn, pastor of First Baptist Church, Scottsboro. “When an adoption can cost as much as $30,000 and an abortion is $300, something is wrong.”
Preaching from 1 Kings 18:36–37, he challenged Alabama Baptists to be decisive and courageous in their commitment and to hold fast to the one true God as Elijah did when he challenged the priests of Baal.
“There is a need for entrepreneurial leadership to stand up and influence the culture that our churches are planted in,” Wilburn said.
Southern Baptists’ influence appears to be declining, he said, noting that the Southern Baptist Convention is in a 14-year slide in baptisms, with the exception of one year.
“What about your church? Is its influence sliding, its impact on engaging the culture slipping? You can panic or you can pray,” Wilburn said.
Sometimes it’s possible for Baptists to get so nostalgic that all they are doing is trying to recover something from times past, he said. Instead they should look for new strength from God, he said.
“God, would You send a fresh wind of renewal in my life? Alabama Baptists, we must rebuild the altar to the Lord. We do not have any power apart from His power to impact this culture,” Wilburn said.
He challenged Alabama Baptists to be “leaders of change” rather than “losers of influence.”
Churches can focus on so many things from age and race to budgets and music styles, but they “had better focus on Jesus,” Wilburn said.
He also challenged state Baptists to reach out to nonbelievers in love.
“The people in our community just want to know some simple things — are you real, and do you care?”
The window of church influence is waning unless Christians do something to turn the tide, Wilburn said.
“There will come a time when people quit caring what our churches have to say, because we’re not building bridges to everyone anymore,” he said. It’s possible that rather than trying to connect, some Baptists have retreated to the mountains in fear like Elijah did, Wilburn said.
“Alabama Baptists, come out of the cave,” he said.
Elijah went into the cave, but God came and called him out because He was not finished with him yet, Wilburn said. “You can call it missional, gospel centered, anything you want to call it, but whatever you do, just go. The great I Am is with you always.”