(Article first published as The Southern Baptists' Plan to Change St. Louis on Technorati)
To the Southern Baptists, St. Louis is one of North America’s great unreached urban centers. According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, only 14.8 percent of metro St. Louis’ 2.8 million people are affiliated with an evangelical church. Nearly half of the population is not affiliated with any religious group.
The local Southern Baptists have a plan to change that.
Through their Send North America: St. Louis initiative, local Southern Baptist churches have already begun efforts to start more than 75 new churches in the city during the next five years. Their church planting efforts are not without a cause. They believe that as a result of these new churches crime in the city will go down, dropout rates will decrease, and teen pregnancies will go down. “These things are heart issues,” says Kenny Petty, a Southern Baptist church planter in St. Louis, the Baptist Press quoted him as saying. “And there’s only one thing that can deal with the heart of man and that’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I believe the Southern Baptists have the right idea. Christians need to believe in the power of the gospel to change the hearts of men. In doing so, we will change the hearts of our cities for the better: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” the Bible says (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV).
As the Republican presidential candidates campaign for their party’s nomination, what amazes me is the amount of money these guys can raise. In American politics, they talk about tens of millions of dollars as if it’s nothing. I am a firm believer that we definitely need godly men and women in government. And the kinds of monies these candidates raise say that by and large Americans have not given up on the political process to solve many of our nation’s ills.
But there is a role that we as Christians must play to heal our nation. We must invest in the souls and the hearts of men. We do this by financially supporting and getting involved in evangelism. For God is the only one who can radically change the heart and soul.
The Southern Baptists’ mission to plant 75 churches in one metropolitan city requires substantial investment of time and monies. The truth is that through Send North America, the North American Mission Board’s national strategy aimed at church planting, the goal is to plant churches in 29 major cities and other areas throughout the continent, according to the Baptist Press.
Copyright © 2012 by Frank King. All rights reserved.