Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Seven Questions With Dr. Alvin Reid

1. What were some of the key issues that led you to serve in a denominational position?

I would have to say first of all that I was led, because serving in a denominational position was never a goal of mind. When Dr. Roy Fish talked to a few of us years ago about doing a PhD in evangelism he mentioned that denominational service would be a great way we could use our education. I remember thinking, “Who would want to do that?” Well, God has a sense of humor, because from 1989 till now I have served in a denominational capacity, as a home missionary, then state director of evangelism, then teaching at a Baptist university, to now at a seminary.

I suppose I was led to do so because God prepared me educationally and other ways, and then someone asked me back in 89. Once I stepped into that world I learned one could actually make an impact without being a victim of the bureaucracy. And now, almost 20 years later, I can say God has been very good to me, so I now encourage my students to consider denominational service as well.

2. What is your greatest passion?

To know Christ and make Him known. That is pretty general, so I can narrow that a bit to say my great passion is to help believers see that Christianity is not a ho-hum, once-a-week life, but a radically changed, spiritually charged adventure! I long to see Christians lose a domesticated, institutional conception of Christianity and realize instead we are part of a movement of God. That is probably why I so love to teach and study great awakenings, because those times demonstrate what happens when believers get it, that being a Christian does not mean we have Christ in our lives, but that Christ is our life. I also love to study church and the culture and see what we are missing. Most of the books I write are a meager attempt at dealing with that.

3. In your opinion what is the main thing that must happen in the SBC to build momentum for Kingdom growth over the next 5 years.

That is a bit like defining the universe and giving two examples. At the risk of sounding like a pathetic self-promoter, my website ( has some info on that, but in articles and messages I have preached called “Join the Movement” and “Things Must Change.”

In a nutshell we must build on the foundation of an unashamed conviction that God’s Word is both inerrant and sufficient. From that foundation we must realize that there must be intentional, strategic changes made in how we DO Christianity if we are going to reverse the baptism decline and truly impact America and the world. David Dockery wrote years ago that 2 problems the SBC developed a generation ago were: 1) buying into higher criticism in our schools, thus developing a less-than-confident attitude toward the Scriptures in our colleges and seminaries, and 2) buying into a programmatic approach to ministry. I would submit we have largely corrected the first through the conservative resurgence, but have hardly touched the second. It is time.

4. At the 2006 SBC Convention Southern Baptists made a renewed commitment to the Cooperative Program. Why should a church support the Cooperative Program?

Because it pays my salary of course. Just kidding. I actually have an endowed chair so it doesn’t pay my salary. But a church should support the CP because of the simple principle that we can always do more together than alone. No approach in the history of man has done more to help train, engage, and enlist missionaries and other leaders than the CP.

At the same time, I am burdened that the great passion for CP is not matched currently by a similar passion for souls. If CP giving had declined four out of the last five years as have baptisms we would see the most dramatic campaign in history to raise CP. I see no similar grassroots burden for the lost. I realize CP stands for missions, and I know baptisms are not the only measure of evangelistic impact. I also know by writing this I am probably making a few enemies, but the Scripture teaches one soul is worth more than all the accumulated wealth of the earth. I believe in the CP, but I believe we measure by money more than by people, and that disturbs me. My friend Thom Rainer noted that 53% of one group of pastors he surveyed stated that they had not shared Christ in the previous six months with a single person. That is a much bigger concern to me than any monetary figure, although both matter and are related.

5. If you could give one word of encouragement to every Baptist minister what would it be?

I would only tell you what I tell my students. Every week just mention to your people someone you shared Christ with that week. That alone over a short period would do more to encourage believers to witness than anything else. Ministry is caught more than taught! Second, God is still on the throne. We live in a critical time of needed change, but we can be confident in the future, because our God reigns.

6. In a day and time when so many ministers are struggling with having their devotional time, what is your habit and how have you kept it consistent?

Interesting question in that I am about to go speak to a group of college students at my church on this issue. Obviously the daily time with God is vital. But I am increasingly concerned that we have made the “quiet time” a compartmentalized kind of checklist not always directly related to our daily life. Psalm 1 is helpful at this point. Does my devotional life cause me to avoid walking, standing, or sitting with (i.e. being influenced by) sinners? Is my time with God taking me deeper, developing a hunger for God, like a tree planted by a stream?

In other words, can people see the impact of my devotional time in the way God is changing me, or has it become a pagan mantra that I do with no impact? For me to be consistent, I have a few things that fit who I am. I need a rule, a regular schedule. My wife is more laid back in hers but she is probably closer to God than I! I read the Scriptures, typically reading the entire Bible annually. I keep a journal and key prayer requests. And recently I have begun walking for 30 minutes every morning, listening to music as I walk, which really invigorates me spiritually. I also try to read a biography or two of a great Christian every year.

7. Over the next year what are some things you hope to accomplish and how can my readers and I pray for you?

I want to get some books written so I can keep my word on the contracts I signed. I want to see my kids grow deeper in their passion for Jesus. I want my wife to feel like the queen of the world as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. I want to see my students broken for a lost world and equipped to do something about it.

Pray that I would be a good steward of the amazing students I get to teach. I get to tell the greatest news on earth, and I get to teach people how to do that. And they pay me! God is good.

Dr. Alvin Reid holds the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. Learn more about Dr. Reid by visiting his blog or his website.


Blogger Andrew Kenny said...

Like your blog. I'M passionate about evangelism too.


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