MBC president urges messengers to renew passion for the Gospel
CAPE GIRARDEAU – Ralph Sawyer is ready to kick it up another notch.
Speaking to the annual meeting’s theme “Renewing Our Passion,” the president of the Missouri Baptist Convention urged messengers in Cape Girardeau to become passionate about their purpose and their priority to share the love of Jesus.
“It’s not that we don’t labor. We love to labor,” Sawyer said, describing Missouri Baptists’ outpouring of support to areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. “It’s not that we don’t care and we’ve never shared, but somewhere along the way, we forgot to kick it up another notch.”
Sawyer, the outgoing president of the convention, borrowed the line from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse as he delivered an animated sermon Oct. 30. Senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Wentzville, Sawyer based his message on Matthew 9:35-37, noting that Jesus didn’t care if people were rich or poor or what their hobbies were.
“If you and I are going to make a difference in our world, we’re going to have to have the compassion the Lord Jesus has,” he said.
In order to reach the next generation, churches must make young people feel welcome, Sawyer said, but warned against trying to be cool to spread the Gospel.
“We want to engage the culture, not marry the culture,” he said, adding that some styles or methods are not appropriate. “Are we becoming so immature we actually believe it’s okay to curse from the pulpit? You don’t need a keg night to reach your community.”
Style without substance will leave the church “up a Willow Creek without a paddle,” he said, an apparent reference to Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago metropolitan area, which has seeker-sensitive services.
Sawyer also used the president’s message to address current issues, including Missouri’s vote on Amendment 2, which would protect certain types of stem cell research. He compared the research to experiments the Nazis performed on Jews.
“Brothers and sisters, it was wrong then and it’s wrong now. We should never take the life of an innocent human being to further our own purposes,” he said. “Every person in here was once just a zygote. When you have human life, you have a soul.”
In addition, Sawyer spoke about recent actions by the self-appointed trustees of Windermere Baptist Conference Center. Land has been sold off from the property and acres of timber cut down. Sawyer said the work had been done at the hands of those who said they were doing Missouri Baptists a favor in the long run.
“Please don’t do us any more favors,” he said. “Stop ripping out our hearts and demolishing so much of what has been given.”
Sawyer also addressed Cooperative Program giving, which was an issue of discussion during the business sessions held during the meeting.
“I’m afraid across our convention we beat our breasts about how much we give to the Cooperative Program. That’s not appropriate,” he said. “Give what the Lord wants; it’s not about the percentage, it’s about the heart.”