How we pray for those we know who aren’t followers of Jesus

As a pastor, I often ponder how my church can be more effective at sharing the love and gospel of Jesus with our community. Ours is not a large town. We are a community of roughly 1700 people in a county of around 18,000. This presents certain challenges to evangelism: many people are commuters, we don’t really have a “town center” where large numbers of people regularly gather (well, maybe the football field in the fall), and many people said a prayer and were baptized as a kid in VBS or the likes, so they don’t think they need anything else despite the fact that little in their life resembles a follower of Jesus.

At the foundation of everything we have attempted as a church, we have prayed about reaching those without Jesus, but at the start of 2017 I was convicted that we need to refocus our prayers: We need to pray, specifically and by name, for individuals to come to know Jesus.

This is something that I had encouraged on a private and individual level in the past, but I decided we needed to do more together as a church. So, I put the following plan into motion.

First, I preached on the need to pray for people to come to faith in Jesus. For the better part of 2017, I have been working through John 13-21 in my sermons as we lead up to Easter. Halfway through John 14, Jesus said:

Truly, Truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. ~ John 14:12-14 (ESV)

I am convinced that these “greater works” relate to the mission to see people come to know Jesus. Despite thousands showing up to hear his teachings and see his miracles from time to time, at the end of his ministry Jesus was only left with 100 or so followers and a core group of 11 (Acts 1). Once the Holy Spirit came on the scene in Acts 2, this quickly ballooned to 3000 and growing (Acts 2). But, from a numbers perspective, Jesus’ ministry was not all that impressive, especially for one who claimed to bring salvation to the whole world.

We must remember, however, that Jesus’ purpose wasn’t to complete this task in his three-year ministry, but to provide the means of salvation. He then gave the command to us as his followers to go out with his gospel and disciple the nations.

If I have John 14:12 correct, then it adds focus to 14:13-14. To ask in Jesus’ name is to ask according to his character, purpose, and will. That also involves the salvation of a “people for his own possession,” as Paul would say. So, many of our prayers should be related to our mission. I forget who said it, but I love the quote: If you look at most of our prayer lists, it seems we spend more time praying to keep people out of heaven (health concerns) than to get people into heaven (salvation). There’s nothing wrong with us praying for people’s health, family situation, jobs, or finances; but in the end a person’s soul is far more important than their broken leg. We should be zealous about praying for people’s health and we should be even more zealous about praying for their souls.

Second, I challenged my congregation to commit to pray for the salvation of at least two people they know who are not followers of Jesus. These could be their coworkers, neighbors, classmates, or family members. For three weeks, we provided a sheet of paper in the bulletin. The top half contained room and instructions for writing down and committing to pray for these names. On the bottom half, they could duplicate these names and turn them in to me, so that…

Third, we took the submitted names and produced a 4-week, 28-day prayer calendar. The submitted names were divided alphabetically across six days each week. The seventh day was set aside to pray for a specific unreached people group, in our case the Turkish-speaking Kurds of Turkey. I got the URPG information from www.joshuaproject.net (a site I highly recommend as a prayer resource. They even have a prayer app you can download). Then over the next three weeks, these names and URPG were repeated.

Each week was given a different set of verses and a theme to pray. Week 1 is Romans 10:8-17 with the theme: “That these might hear the gospel, and in hearing turn to Jesus in faith.” Week 2 is 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 and John 10:10, “That these would find liberty from sin and come to have the fullness of life in Jesus.” Week 3 is John 3:3-8, “That these might experience a new birth by the Holy Spirit.” And Week 4 is Colossians 4:2-6, “That God would open a door for us and others to share the gospel with these.” When the 28-days are up, we can use days 29-31 to catch up on any days we missed or pray for new people God has laid on our hearts, and when the next month begins, we start back at day 1.

Altogether, we had 70 names turned in for our calendar. That’s not yet two people per attendee, but it’s a start.

The beautiful thing about this list is that, even though no one person in the church knows everybody listed, everybody listed is connected to at least one person in the church. These are specific and known people that we are praying for.

Fourth, I am having the deacons pray for 5 or 6 of these names during their Sunday Morning prayer time. We incorporate several periods of prayer in our worship gathering. We have an opening scripture reading and prayer, we pray before the offering, I pray before the sermon, and we have a responsive prayer after the sermon. Also, planned into this is a time of intercessory prayer, usually led by one of the deacons. Like in many of our Baptist churches, this list typically is dominated by health concerns. Now, they include names from our 28-day prayer calendar.

So… Here’s my question for you: What are you doing in your own life and church in order to pray specific prayers for individuals in your life and community who are without Jesus? If the answer is not much, then I challenge you to start. Maybe the example from my church will inspire something similar at yours. I’ve also attached a copy of our prayer calendar here, so you can see what it is that we are doing.

The Great Things About Being a Pastor

It happened again several weeks ago, and it made me want to punch a hole in my computer screen. Thankfully, I had the restraint not to do so. Computers aren’t cheap. I was perusing my Facebook feed, and there it was—that link staring me in the face: An article at some blog talking about how pastoring is the most difficult thing you can do.

Let me just state now to all you nurses, farmers, overnight factory workers, underpaid school teachers, etc., I apologize that such blogs exist. (I’m married to a nurse, I’ve pastored farmers and heard their stories, I know overnight blue-collar workers—including my dad before he retired, and am good friends with some underpaid school teachers. Believe me when I say that as a pastor: I have very little to complain about.)

Now pastor-brothers, some of you might say: Well good for you, but you don’t know my situation. No, I’m not in your shoes, but I’ve walked some hard roads alongside you. I’ve done the bi-vocational thing, and frankly as a full-timer now, I have mad respect for faithful, hardworking bi-vo guys. You put a lot into all that you do. I’ve also had to put up with surly deacons whose salvation I question, had my character ripped to shreds, and was given a choice: “Resign and we’ll give you a severance, or be fired and we’ll give you nothing.” Horror story churches like that do exist, but in my experience they’re the exception and not the rule.

Does the job of the pastor have some difficult moments? Of course. There are time, family, and emotional tolls that you pay. It is an investment to sit with a hurting family who lost a loved one, or to help them bury their newborn daughter (an experience I pray to never repeat). There are occasions where you find out the dark secrets of someone’s life and you’re thrust into the middle of dealing with them. Those occasions often make you long for the ignorance you had of such matters before you became a pastor.

And any pastor worth his weight in fried chicken knows (which for me would be about $1300 in Buffalo Wild Wings traditional wings, don’t ask me how I know this): There is that verse in Hebrews 13 about having to give an account for the people we lead. With some church-people that’s a wonderful verse and for others that should scare us a bit, or a lot.

Yet, still, there are many good things about being a pastor that make it far from the hardest job you could ever have. Here’s a few:

First, you get paid to spend time with Jesus. My wife and I had this discussion. It’s a struggle for her (and for many other hard working people I know) to set aside all the time she would like to spend reading her Bible, praying, and reading other helpful books on the Christian life. Yet for a pastor, that’s our main job. We get paid (and 1 Timothy 5:17-18 say that it is good for a church to pay her pastors) to spend time with Jesus (following the example of the apostles, the first pastors of the Jerusalem church, we’re to “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” – Acts 6:4) and to take what we learn and feed and train the souls of others (Ephesians 4:11-12, 2 Timothy 4:1-2).

Now, of course, to balance this we’re not to do what we do with the sole motivation of getting paid. We’re not to be hirelings. So for this to be a good thing, we have to be faithful and seek to shepherd well, but if we (and especially us full time guys) are struggling with time in the word and prayer, then we need to reevaluate the hours of our work days.

Second, you have the privilege of leading eternal investments in people’s lives. I’m a firm believer that the Great Commission is for every Christian. All of us are to take part in being discipled and making disciples, however this looks on a personal level for us. But, as Ephesian 4:11-12 says, we pastors are to be leaders in this. We’re to be on the frontlines of discipleship, heading the charge as we train others for the task. When a person dies, only one thing will matter: That person’s relationship with Jesus. Our job is all about Jesus, so our focus needs to be all about these eternal investments.

My college pastor and one of my main mentors in pastoring, Ronnie, taught me that people in the church fall into four categories: VIPs, VTPs, VNPs, and VDPs. The VNPs, or Very Nice People, are the ones that will frustrate you with kindness. They’re nice, they’ll never say a bad word about you or your sermons or your families, and they’ll even have you over for dinner and do it all with a smile, but that’s about it. They’re probably saved, but they don’t have a penny’s worth of interest in growing in their salvation. You can encourage them all you want, and they’ll just keep on in the comfort zone of being nice. You’re responsible for their souls, so you keep pressing on, keep praying for them, and keep being thankful for their niceness; but you don’t plan on them becoming pillars of the church.

VDPs, or Very Draining People, are the ones who sap your energy. Maybe it is through criticism. Maybe it’s because they think they need a pastoral visit for a hangnail. Maybe it’s because they think midnight is an appropriate time to call to challenge you on a theological issue. Maybe… okay, you get the picture. These are the few people whose presence are like fingernails on a chalkboard in your life. They often seem larger in number than they really are because of how loud they can get. If you let them, they’ll demand 80% or more of your time. So, you have to be disciplined and bold, and make sure that collectively they don’t get more than 20% of your available people-time. Sometimes we question their salvation, but we need to remember that infants and toddlers throw loud fits. You’re still their pastor, so you need to shepherd them, but you can’t let them drain you.

Then there’s the VIPs and VTPs—the Very Important People and the Very Trainable People. These are the pastor’s dream people. The VIPs are the ones who get it. They love Jesus, they love his word, and they love serving others. Sometimes their zeal needs properly channeled, but for the most part you can point them to resources, encourage their lives, and free them to serve, and they’ll do it well. The VTPs are the ones who have potential to be VIPs but need a little more engagement, focus, and teaching to get there. These are excited about their faith, eager to grow, but still young in it. It is these two groups that should get the majority of the pastor’s people-time. After all, not only are you making eternal investments in their lives, but they are going to make investments in your life and in the lives of many others out there.

Third, you get to play a major role in important life-events. This past Saturday I had the privilege of officiating a wedding. If we’re being honest, all of us pastors have some weddings we perform out of duty; but this one was a joy. Over the past seven years, I have had an investment in the life of the groom, including discipling him one-on-one for part of that time. When he and his bride asked if I would lead it, there was zero hesitation. My prayer is that they both live long, full lives together as a couple. That would produce 60+ years of marriage, and I am the guy who signed the papers, counseled with them, and preached the sermon to kick it off.

Then there are funerals. Every person who is born only gets one funeral (well, except Lazarus). With weddings, I prefer to officiate only if I know either the bride or the groom. So, I have said no quite a bit. With funerals, it is rare for me to ever turn one down. Now, again, some funerals are easier to do than others. When a faithful, Jesus-loving church member passes on, it is a great honor to be able to stand up and talk about Jesus and his or her life. When the funeral is for someone you know never knew Jesus or someone who is a stranger to you, they’re harder to do, but it is still an opportunity to speak to the hearts of hurting people. In both the weddings and the funerals that I officiate, Jesus is center.

I’ve never been asked to do one and to not mention or just briefly skirt by Jesus and the gospel. If I ever am, I will say, “Sorry, but I’m not able to do your service.” I’m a pastor, after all, not a motivational speaker.

Weddings and funerals, and even things like Baccalaureate, are important life events that you get asked as a pastor to be a part of. Even better, at these events, you typically get to speak about Jesus to a crowd of people from different life and faith backgrounds. What a mighty opportunity! And let’s also not forget the chance to hold a newborn and pray with his or her parents—that one is just awesomely sweet.

In conclusion… I started this post expressing that I’m tired of the “pastoring is the hardest thing you’ll ever do” posts. I stand by that. It has its difficult moments, and some are very difficult indeed. But the good things of pastoring, like these three that I’ve listed and more if space allowed, by far make up for the difficult things. As Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:1, “If anyone spires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” It’s a high calling, brothers, and one that has more ups than downs.

Tweet me @mbergman_1980

Hi, I’m Mike and I’m a Calvinist

A recent post at a sister Baptist site of a traditionalist flair boasts of how their pastor search questionnaire recently prevented a Calvinist from being hired at a church of non-Calvinist leanings. The DOM of the church’s association went to the church with the questionnaire and the information that a candidate was a Calvinist.

It does not appear from the post that the church actually went through the questions with the candidate, and instead opted to just disengage their pursuit. That’s their right, but it would seem that the DOM may have overstepped his bounds. Provide a questionnaire, sure, but do it in a way that the church doesn’t even end up asking a candidate in which they had shown interest the questions?

When the candidate objected to the DOM, the DOM replied:

“Don’t you think a church deserves to know if you’re going to stop having invitations after the gospel is preached? Don’t you think they deserve to know that you intend to replace their congregational polity with an elder rule one? Don’t you think they deserve to know whether or not you’re going to accept and/or practice infant baptism–a practice which will cause them to be disfellowshipped from this association?”

Then one of the commenters on the post stated:

Perhaps it would be helpful to describe/document the changes in church life that come when a Calvinist is at the helm. Here are a few I have observed:
1) A distain for and lack of interest in traditional evangelistic efforts such as revivals and camps/conferences for children and youth that have an evangelistic focus.
2) A desire to replace church leaders with those who share his Calvinism views, including SS teachers at all levels.
3) Transitioning the church away from congregational church gov’t to elder-led or pastor-led if replacing deacons with elders is not possible..
4) Using more Calvinistic oriented teaching materials, SBC and other.
5) Not cooperating/supporting local Association unless it is dominated by Calvinism.
If church members knew what was at stake they might have more concern.

Since it seems that some wish to paint all Calvinists with a broad brush, I thought I would offer some perspective as a self-proclaimed Calvinist.

First, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I use many “traditional evangelistic efforts” to try to reach people. My church and I support our associational camp and involve ourselves there in various ways. We have engaged in door-to-door ministry, in which we have shared the gospel, invited people to church and/or events, offered to pray for people, given out cookies with a card saying “We Love Adrian” (our town) that points people to our website where they will find a basic gospel presentation. This past Sunday night we also kicked off our month-long revival series that meets each Sunday evening of March.

Oh, and among the speakers at our revival series are a self-proclaimed Baptist Arminian and a traditional (though not “traditionalist”) non-Calvinist, non-Arminian Baptist. These two gentlemen are also two of my best friends, and I’ll be preaching one night of a revival at my “Baptist Arminian” friend’s church later this month as well.

So, not only do I support many “traditional evangelistic efforts,” but my efforts also show that guys on different ends of the soteriological spectrum can get along swimmingly.

Second, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, and I give an invitation at the end of my sermons. We give people a moment to reflect on how God’s Word challenged them that day, and then I say, “If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I would love to talk to you about what it means to follow him. You can come talk to me as we sing our last song or find me after the service ends.”

Third, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, and I have no desire to baptize any infants. My fathers in the faith taught me to love the Bible, learn the Bible, and teach the Bible. It is from that conviction that I became a Calvinist. Now, I’m not saying that those who don’t align with me don’t love the Bible, know the Bible, or teach the Bible. I believe my friend who is on the opposite end of this Calvinism-Arminianism spectrum loves, knows, and teaches the Bible quite well. But in our pursuits, we have come to different conclusions. So, iron sharpens iron, we challenge each to ponder and grow.

Yet, it is also this same conviction that has led me to reject infant baptism and straight-up Covenant Theology, even as a soteriological Calvinist. I don’t see the Biblical case. And every Calvinistic Baptist I personally know (which is quite a few) agrees with our traditionalists and just plain ol’ Baptist friends on this one. That’s why we’re Calvinistic Baptists—we think the reformers didn’t reform quite enough on this point, even in their “scripture alone” stance. If we saw a Biblical case for infant baptism, then we would be Presbyterian and not Southern Baptists.

Give us the benefit of the doubt on this one: Though we think Calvin got it right on soteriology, we don’t think he got it right on everything. It’s the Bible we view as inerrant, not the Institutes.

Fourth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I don’t try to instill Calvinists into every position of leadership. My church has four deacons, of those four exactly zero are Calvinists. My church has twelve Sunday School teachers (not including me), and only three of these twelve were teachers when I arrived almost seven years ago. Of these twelve, one is a Calvinist and one mostly leans that way, though he doesn’t make a big deal about it, ever. Our doctrinal statement is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 with a modification to a more open (any believer, not just Baptist believers) Lord’s Supper table. Our teachings in Sunday School are to conform to that, not my Calvinist preferences. Oh, and we use all three offerings of LifeWay Sunday School literature, depending on the class.

Fifth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I love my association. We are in an association of 30 churches, currently with 25 pastors. The number of Calvinists pastors, including myself, is 2. Frankly, I’m okay with being one of two “odd ducks.” I love serving with and being around my associational pastors, and we don’t major on what we see as a minor theological difference because we know that we all love Jesus and desire to see people come to faith in him, though we have different beliefs of how that works in the spiritual behind the scenes.

Sixth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I do prefer elder-led. Okay, I’ll own that one, but though I prefer it, I also don’t make a big push for it. I think it’s the best and most biblical model, but I also don’t go so far to say that it’s an absolute command of Scripture. The idea carries a lot of baggage in some churches, and while I don’t shy away from teaching it, I’m also not willing to make it a church-splitting hill on which to die.

But, I didn’t come to my elder-led convictions from a Calvinist influence. No, the person I first learned it from who led me to embrace the conviction is a traditionalist (who actually signed the traditionalist statement and writes for that other blog) who does a lot of teaching against the “dangers of Calvinism.” I do get that it is mostly us Calvinist guys who are more in favor of a congregational elder-led model (not a non-congregational elder-ruled model, mind you). Yet, I also find it ironic that this is often pushed as a potential danger of having a Calvinist pastor when I learned it and was convinced biblically of it by a traditionalist. Go figure.

All of this to say, yes, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, but me and many like me don’t fit into the strawmen, boogey-man specter that is often used to broad-brush paint us. We love Jesus, we love his word, and we love seeing people come to know and follow Jesus through the sharing of his gospel. And we know the same is true of our non-Calvinists (and even self-proclaimed “Arminian”) Southern Baptist brothers and sisters.

There’s so much division already in this world, so let’s tell a better story and try to paint a better picture of one another. Let’s actually engage with each other personally and in love, as opposed to painting with a broad brush against each other. If we do, we might just find that we can work together a lot more happily for our common cause.

Hi, I’m Mike and I’m a Calvinist

A recent post at a sister Baptist site of a traditionalist flair boasts of how their pastor search questionnaire recently prevented a Calvinist from being hired at a church of non-Calvinist leanings. The DOM of the church’s association went to the church with the questionnaire and the information that a candidate was a Calvinist.

It does not appear from the post that the church actually went through the questions with the candidate, and instead opted to just disengage their pursuit. That’s their right, but it would seem that the DOM may have overstepped his bounds. Provide a questionnaire, sure, but do it in a way that the church doesn’t even end up asking a candidate in which they had shown interest the questions?

When the candidate objected to the DOM, the DOM replied:

“Don’t you think a church deserves to know if you’re going to stop having invitations after the gospel is preached? Don’t you think they deserve to know that you intend to replace their congregational polity with an elder rule one? Don’t you think they deserve to know whether or not you’re going to accept and/or practice infant baptism–a practice which will cause them to be disfellowshipped from this association?”

Then one of the commenters on the post stated:

Perhaps it would be helpful to describe/document the changes in church life that come when a Calvinist is at the helm. Here are a few I have observed:
1) A distain for and lack of interest in traditional evangelistic efforts such as revivals and camps/conferences for children and youth that have an evangelistic focus.
2) A desire to replace church leaders with those who share his Calvinism views, including SS teachers at all levels.
3) Transitioning the church away from congregational church gov’t to elder-led or pastor-led if replacing deacons with elders is not possible..
4) Using more Calvinistic oriented teaching materials, SBC and other.
5) Not cooperating/supporting local Association unless it is dominated by Calvinism.
If church members knew what was at stake they might have more concern.

Since it seems that some wish to paint all Calvinists with a broad brush, I thought I would offer some perspective as a self-proclaimed Calvinist.

First, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I use many “traditional evangelistic efforts” to try to reach people. My church and I support our associational camp and involve ourselves there in various ways. We have engaged in door-to-door ministry, in which we have shared the gospel, invited people to church and/or events, offered to pray for people, given out cookies with a card saying “We Love Adrian” (our town) that points people to our website where they will find a basic gospel presentation. This past Sunday night we also kicked off our month-long revival series that meets each Sunday evening of March.

Oh, and among the speakers at our revival series are a self-proclaimed Baptist Arminian and a traditional (though not “traditionalist”) non-Calvinist, non-Arminian Baptist. These two gentlemen are also two of my best friends, and I’ll be preaching one night of a revival at my “Baptist Arminian” friend’s church later this month as well.

So, not only do I support many “traditional evangelistic efforts,” but my efforts also show that guys on different ends of the soteriological spectrum can get along swimmingly.

Second, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, and I give an invitation at the end of my sermons. We give people a moment to reflect on how God’s Word challenged them that day, and then I say, “If you’re not a follower of Jesus, I would love to talk to you about what it means to follow him. You can come talk to me as we sing our last song or find me after the service ends.”

Third, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, and I have no desire to baptize any infants. My fathers in the faith taught me to love the Bible, learn the Bible, and teach the Bible. It is from that conviction that I became a Calvinist. Now, I’m not saying that those who don’t align with me don’t love the Bible, know the Bible, or teach the Bible. I believe my friend who is on the opposite end of this Calvinism-Arminianism spectrum loves, knows, and teaches the Bible quite well. But in our pursuits, we have come to different conclusions. So, iron sharpens iron, we challenge each to ponder and grow.

Yet, it is also this same conviction that has led me to reject infant baptism and straight-up Covenant Theology, even as a soteriological Calvinist. I don’t see the Biblical case. And every Calvinistic Baptist I personally know (which is quite a few) agrees with our traditionalists and just plain ol’ Baptist friends on this one. That’s why we’re Calvinistic Baptists—we think the reformers didn’t reform quite enough on this point, even in their “scripture alone” stance. If we saw a Biblical case for infant baptism, then we would be Presbyterian and not Southern Baptists.

Give us the benefit of the doubt on this one: Though we think Calvin got it right on soteriology, we don’t think he got it right on everything. It’s the Bible we view as inerrant, not the Institutes.

Fourth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I don’t try to instill Calvinists into every position of leadership. My church has four deacons, of those four exactly zero are Calvinists. My church has twelve Sunday School teachers (not including me), and only three of these twelve were teachers when I arrived almost seven years ago. Of these twelve, one is a Calvinist and one mostly leans that way, though he doesn’t make a big deal about it, ever. Our doctrinal statement is the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 with a modification to a more open (any believer, not just Baptist believers) Lord’s Supper table. Our teachings in Sunday School are to conform to that, not my Calvinist preferences. Oh, and we use all three offerings of LifeWay Sunday School literature, depending on the class.

Fifth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I love my association. We are in an association of 30 churches, currently with 25 pastors. The number of Calvinists pastors, including myself, is 2. Frankly, I’m okay with being one of two “odd ducks.” I love serving with and being around my associational pastors, and we don’t major on what we see as a minor theological difference because we know that we all love Jesus and desire to see people come to faith in him, though we have different beliefs of how that works in the spiritual behind the scenes.

Sixth, I’m a 5-point Calvinist and I do prefer elder-led. Okay, I’ll own that one, but though I prefer it, I also don’t make a big push for it. I think it’s the best and most biblical model, but I also don’t go so far to say that it’s an absolute command of Scripture. The idea carries a lot of baggage in some churches, and while I don’t shy away from teaching it, I’m also not willing to make it a church-splitting hill on which to die.

But, I didn’t come to my elder-led convictions from a Calvinist influence. No, the person I first learned it from who led me to embrace the conviction is a traditionalist (who actually signed the traditionalist statement and writes for that other blog) who does a lot of teaching against the “dangers of Calvinism.” I do get that it is mostly us Calvinist guys who are more in favor of a congregational elder-led model (not a non-congregational elder-ruled model, mind you). Yet, I also find it ironic that this is often pushed as a potential danger of having a Calvinist pastor when I learned it and was convinced biblically of it by a traditionalist. Go figure.

All of this to say, yes, I’m a 5-point Calvinist, but me and many like me don’t fit into the strawmen, boogey-man specter that is often used to broad-brush paint us. We love Jesus, we love his word, and we love seeing people come to know and follow Jesus through the sharing of his gospel. And we know the same is true of our non-Calvinists (and even self-proclaimed “Arminian”) Southern Baptist brothers and sisters.

There’s so much division already in this world, so let’s tell a better story and try to paint a better picture of one another. Let’s actually engage with each other personally and in love, as opposed to painting with a broad brush against each other. If we do, we might just find that we can work together a lot more happily for our common cause.