November 5, 2002
SPRINGFIELD — David Clippard officially launched his tenure as executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention with some "body language."
Speaking to an overflow crowd at the University Plaza Convention Center here, site of the 2002 MBC annual meeting, Clippard said he thinks the heart of the Missouri Baptist Convention is located in the body, not the head.
"I want all of you to remember that the heart of this convention is not the Baptist Building or the MBC staff," he said. "The heart of this convention’s ministry is not found in its entities, as valuable as they all are.
"It’s the local church that reaches out into every single neighborhood and street of our state," Clippard remarked during his first executive director’s address on the convention’s opening night (Oct. 28).
"It is the local church that loves people to Jesus. It is the local church that puts marriages and families together again. It is the local church that visits the hospital, the funeral home, the broken-hearted and the lonely. If you are looking for the real heart of this convention, then all you need do is look on the major highways and the dirt roads of Missouri because that is where you will find our local churches who comprise the real heart of this convention."
With "amens" coming from across the 2,000-seat meeting room, Clippard pledged to be truthful – all the time – in his dealings with Missouri Baptists.
"As messengers of this convention, you cannot make wise decisions about our future and our direction if you do not have the truth, and I will always bring you the truth of exactly where we are and where I believe we need to go," he said.
And the future, he added, will be for the convention’s ministry to focus on supporting, assisting and equipping its churches. "If you hear nothing else, hear my heart for the local church," Clippard emphasized.
The new director also had a word of chastisement for the local churches represented in the overflow crowd.
"We are losing America," he said. "But, like our example from the book of Nehemiah, if every church and every person in that church simply reached down and picked up a stone from the rubble – right where they live – and put it in the wall, we can rebuild the Glory of God in our state and turn the tide of Kingdom loss.
"We must be about Kingdom business by equipping our people to become Kingdom people. Kingdom people equipped to empower Kingdom growth."
Clippard listed four reasons why he is excited about the future for Missouri Baptists.
"First, because it seems clear to me that the prophecies of Scripture are fulfilled and the stage is set for the imminent and immediate return of Christ. It could happen anytime. That in itself should get you excited.
"Secondly, I am excited about being a Southern Baptist. What a day to be a Southern Baptist. World-wide we have more international missionaries, more domestic missionaries, more people making decisions to follow Jesus, more baptisms and more church starts than at any other time in the 78-year history of our Cooperative Program.
"Thirdly, I am excited about being a Missouri Baptist because I believe we are on the verge of some of the greatest days this convention will ever experience. Yes, we have hit some bumps in the road, but isn’t that just the way life is? In five years or less, the bumps we have hit this year will be way behind us in our rear-view mirror. And we want to be about the business of assisting every church to experience New Testament Christian ministry."
Comparing the rebuilding of Kingdom work in Missouri to the rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah 8, Clippard said if each church member would pick up one stone and place it in the wall, observers would quickly see some significant changes in overall impact by Missouri Baptists.
Six stones that need to be picked up, Clippard said are:
- Stone 1. Every church training at least four new people to share their faith every year in an on-going soul-winning discipleship course of the pastor’s choosing. "Think about the impact of 2,000 churches, each training just four people each year," he said. "That would mean 8,000 additional soul-winning soldiers on the streets of Missouri and the world every year."
- Stone 2. Every church purpose to baptize at least one person every year. "Surely," he said, "every church can find at least one boy or girl on their way to Vacation Bible School to bring to Christ. Let’s each one win one."
- Stone 3. Every church purpose to baptize at least one new convert on the first Sunday of the coming new year.
- Stone 4. Every MBC church involved in planting a new church at least once every four years.
- Stone 5. Every church purpose to start something new each year. "It could be a new church or a new ministry to single parents, a new ministry to train parents or a new Sunday School Class," Clippard said. "We want to help our churches put at least one new hook in the water to bring people to Jesus every year."
- Stone 6. As quickly as possible, 1,000 or more Missouri Baptists on short-term international mission trips every year. "I call it vacationing with a purpose," Clippard explained. "Instead of going to Branson to watch the leaves die, go overseas and walk with a missionary. You will be changed for a lifetime."
In conclusion, Clippard urged the messengers to pray for, support and physically walk with missionaries. By doing so, he said, "you will experience" first-hand the awesome power of our God at work.
"God has always used ordinary people to do extraordinary things," he said.