For Missouri Baptists, it comes down to trustees, trust
July 29, 2003
The first statewide organization of Missouri Baptists was, in fact, a "home missions" effort with the purpose of sharing the gospel with the people in their own territory. That very first meeting was at the Little Bonne Femme Church in Boone County on June 6, 1835, and since then Missouri Baptists have had a great vision for reaching this state with the Gospel.
Their first state missions’ offering was $225.06. According to the minutes of that meeting, this offering was "lifted" for the purpose of: "To adopt means and execute plans to promote the preaching of the Gospel in the destitute churches and settlements within the bounds of the State."
From that day until now Missouri Baptists have sacrificially given of themselves and their money to create ministries to reach this state with the Gospel. Every ministry has been born out of the hearts of Missouri Baptist people. Every school and ministry entity was created by Missouri Baptists to fulfill strategic ministry purposes. They have been ministries that say to our world, "we don’t just talk about needs; we take steps to fulfill them."
We care about our elderly. So we did something tangible and specific to meet our senior citizen’s needs. We don’t just talk about developing leaders, we created and support colleges and assembly grounds to train and equip leaders. We don’t depend on the government as our source for funding. God is our source and we take responsibility for financial stability and stewardship of His resources by creating a Baptist Foundation. Every entity plays a strategic role in our overall ministry plans. Missouri says, "SHOW ME." Indeed, we can show them our care and concern in tangible expressions of ministry.
Southern Baptists in Missouri have, through 168 years of blood; sweat, tears and sacrificial giving created entities to meet strategic ministry needs. These entities didn’t just "happen," they are the product of sacrificial giving. We look forward to the return of five entities that have chosen to leave the family of Missouri Baptist life. We want these five entities to once again take their historic and legal places in our ministry life.
The direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention is set annually by the duly elected and voting messengers that come from every church and corner of the state. Our 2,007 Missouri Baptist churches are the ones that created, supported and loved these ministries. It is these Baptist people who, according to our Constitution and by-laws, choose the trustees by the vote of their ballots every year. The elected trustees are people who are then given the responsibility to guide the ministry placed in their hands for the next year. Annually, they give reports to the owners and are thus held accountable for their stewardship. These entities are NOT owned by the trustees. The trustees are to be stewards of the assets put in their hands by the owners – Southern Baptists in Missouri.
Where did we get such an idea of governance? Right out of the mouth of Jesus in His earthly ministry when He spoke to us the parable of the Master, "who called his own slaves, and entrusted his possessions to them." (Matt. 25:14-30). In this parable, each slave was given charge over five, two or one talent. Upon the return of the Master, there was accountability of the possessions to the rightful owner.
Every year, when the convention has finished its business, the messengers place their ministries and assets into the "trusted" hands of boards, trustees and the convention staff to operate them in accordance to the directions and accountability given by the messengers. Personally, I take this charge as a sacred responsibility. My accountability to Missouri Baptists comes through the messenger elected executive board. I work with them to fulfill the directions that our messengers and churches set during the annual meeting. I expect nothing less from every other agency, institution, ministry and trustee.
Am I wrong to think like this? Isn’t this the historic way Baptists do their business? Aren’t the principles of Matt. 25:14-30 our guide in these things? Now, please pray diligently this next month for God to bring closure to these issues. We have a state and a world to reach with the Gospel.
You are loved!