KANSAS CITY, Mo – Southern Baptist Convention President Dr. Bart Barber visited Midwestern Seminary’s campus on October 26 for a chapel service, luncheon, and discussion with President Jason Allen.
Barber addressed the Baptist distinctive of regenerate church membership in his sermon, explaining how this distinctive reserves church membership only for those who profess faith in Christ and show evidence of salvation.
“It was a great joy to host Dr. Bart Barber on our campus,” said President Jason Allen. “To know Dr. Barber is to know a man who loves the Lord, who loves the local church, and who loves the Southern Baptist Convention. I am grateful for his ministry in the local church and in the SBC, and I know our students benefited from his time on campus.”
Preaching from Acts 2:41-47, Barber drew out four marks of a regenerate church.
First, a regenerate church loves one another.
He said, “If your first ministry assignment is one of church hurt, please don’t quit there. It’s true – there isn’t any kind of hurt like church hurt. It leaves scars. But there isn’t any kind of love like church love. It heals scars.”
Second, a regenerate church is hungry for biblical truth.
He explained his own ministry practice of preaching through books of the Bible, saying, “When you preach the Word of God, it will connect with something inside of us because God put the something inside of us to respond well to the proclamation of God’s Word. His sheep know His voice.”
Third, a regenerate church believes in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I believe in the work and power of the Holy Spirit, especially in a congregation of believers,” Barber said. “A regenerate church has a hope that the Holy Spirit will be at work among them in ways that are hard to understand.”
Fourth, a regenerate church has radical generosity.
“The Holy Spirit moves people to meet needs through radical generosity, so much that they are said to have everything in common. I’ve seen radical generosity happen in the hearts of people who love Jesus.”
After explaining these four marks of regenerate church membership, Barber spoke to the importance of this topic amongst Southern Baptists.
He said, “Anything you can’t preach, you can’t propagate.” He then encouraged future pastors to preach on this same topic in their future ministries on the basis of the biblical priority of regenerate churches.
Concluding his sermon, Barber explained how a conviction regarding regenerate church membership should lead to a passion for gospel proclamation.
“As a regenerate church, we should always be calling people to faith in Christ,” he said. “Cultivate a fervency in your church to share the gospel with children and students in your church with the belief of regenerate church membership.”
Luncheon and Q&A
Following the chapel service, the President’s Office hosted a luncheon and Q&A with Barber and President Allen.
Faculty, staff, students, and local ministry leaders came together to enjoy Kansas City barbecue and a conversation revolving around Barber’s pastoral ministry and leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention.
In the discussion, Barber shared his love for Southern Baptists, his reason for running for SBC president, his hopes for the future of the SBC, and much more.
As Barber said, “I made a vow to God several years ago that I was going to spend the rest of my life trying to make the Southern Baptist Convention healthier. I want to move us in the direction of doctrinal fidelity with the fruit of the Spirit guiding the way we interact with one another.”
“God, in his mercy and grace and wisdom, has chosen to use the SBC to do some pretty astounding things,” Barber said, mentioning the many conversations he’s had with Southern Baptists across the globe who are making incredible impact.
Speaking to his own ministerial development and years as a member of SBC churches, he said, “Southern Baptists have invested in me and loved me so much. In a way, I love Southern Baptists because they first loved me.”
Allen agreed, saying, “The closer you get to Southern Baptists, the better we look. If your perception of Southern Baptists is from social media, it may look pretty rough. But if you are having conversations with real people, you’ll see we have the sweetest people and some of the best people on the planet to serve with.”
Barber continued, “What I want to communicate to the world about Southern Baptists is that these are the people who run the food pantry in your local community, who show up when you’ve had a disaster, who go out all across the world to share the gospel and help others in whatever ways they can.”
In visiting many institutions across the country, Barber addresses several Baptist distinctives in hopes of prioritizing the importance of these convictions. Amongst the most urgent distinctives to maintain, he said, was the conviction of religious liberty. He explained his belief that Southern Baptists need to recover a comprehensive and biblical defense of religious liberty for the days ahead.
To conclude the event, Barber shared why he is hopeful for the future of the SBC.
“I’m hopeful for the future because I believe in God. I believe as we gather in our churches and in our annual meetings that the Holy Spirit really moves in flawed people to help us make the right decision at the right moments.”
To listen to Barber’s chapel sermon, visit here.