By Cameron Crabtree
Northwest Baptist Convention
VANCOUVER — Northwest Baptist Convention president Scott Brewer urged executive board members to lead their churches in a spiritual renewal emphasis in hopes of seeing a movement of God’s Spirit in the Northwest and across the nation.
In his first report to the board, Brewer suggested taking cues from the Old Testament story of Nehemiah to recognize the way the United States has rejected biblical principles, to grieve the nation’s condition and to pray for spiritual renewal.
“I’m suggesting to you that the current state of our country has a lot of similarities to the ancient city of Jerusalem and nation of Judah,” said Brewer, founding pastor of Meadowbrook Church in Redmond, Wash. “We certainly have greater prosperity and greater national security and freedom, but with respect to our moorings we are drifting from God and in need of a spiritual awakening.”
Brewer noted Nehemiah’s urgency in seeing the need to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls, not only because of their importance to the city’s defense but as a representation of the Jewish people’s values toward God and worshiping him.
“It’s the same kind of thing for Christians today to leave their hearts and lives so unguarded and so uncared for that they’re subject to every kind of sinful influence and temptation,” Brewer warned. “It’s like a Christian who doesn’t put a wall around his heart to guard against adultery or dishonesty or greed or bitterness. Soon his life is conquered and laid in waste.”
He cited “troubling symptoms” in the nation’s social fabric, such as abortion, racism, sexual assaults, poverty, political corruption, drugs and violence. Amid “the desolation our region is in,” Brewer said God’s people are often on the sideline in battling such ills.
He cited research showing the number of churches in proportion to the U.S. population continues to decline. Convention officials have reported the population of the Northwest grew by 42 percent from 1986-2006 but NWBC churches showed 35 percent fewer baptisms, 21 percent fewer church members and 26 percent fewer people involved in weekly Bible study than in 1986.
“That’s on my watch, that’s on our watch,” Brewer told board members. “I’m suggesting to you that as goes the church in the U.S., so goes the country. If we don’t have a revival and fresh movement of God’s Spirit through his church we will not have one in the country.”
Brewer noted church leaders must follow Nehemiah’s example and grieve over the “desperate state of the church and of the Northwest” and seek fresh relationships with God.
“The answer is not to start yelling at church members or even complain to each other about the state of the church,” Brewer said. “God is calling us to turn to him and talk to him, and more importantly, to listen to him.”
Brewer asked the board to join him in “an immediate and intense season of praying” until the group meets again in November at the NWBC annual meeting in Pasco, Wash. He acknowledged that although he has participated in numerous prayer-focused events in the past 20 years, none of them have resulted in a wide-spread spiritual movement in churches.
“In almost every case it was meaningful to me and kept my own life in God’s hands but I never saw the widespread outbreak of God’s Spirit that we were calling for, that we were praying for,” Brewer said. “Will you one more time believe that God will hear from heaven and move upon his church and upon the Northwest?”
But he cautioned against merely using God to further predetermined goals in ministry: “We are all about mission here. You cut us and we bleed mission. But what we are talking about in these moments is a step back from mission – and that is the glory of God.
“The ultimate is the glory of God,” he added. “We’re being summoned to repentance for God’s glory, for God’s church to better reflect his glory.”
Brewer noted the importance of spiritual foundations for the work of the convention’s recent organizational restructuring.
“I’ve been in favor of all the strategic changes we’ve made in our structures and with our staff,” Brewer said. “But you know as well as I do that strategy and structures don’t bring the move of God’s Spirit. If God is gracious, the repentance of God’s people can bring the move of his Spirit.”
Brewer asked board members over the next few months to have a personal retreat with God.
“I know you’ve done that, but what if this moment is a fresh invitation to do that?” Brewer asked.
In addition, he suggested each board member to “be catalytic to your own church leadership and call for your leadership to join you in seeking God’s face.” He noted he is in the midst of that process with the Meadowbrook church. Brewer suggested church leaders “collectively call for your entire church to seek God’s face in repentance and solemn assembly” as an example.
“This is not a formula,” Brewer said. “We’re not creating a program or template from which to work. As I’ve sought the Lord, he has given me some steps to take for myself and for my church. God will likewise guide you.” He indicated plans for “calling for all of our churches to prayer, fasting and repentance” at the convention annual meeting later this year.
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