By Brian Koonce
RAYTOWN – “Convince, rebuke, exhort … .” That was the theme of Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) President Bruce McCoy’s presidential address to messengers Oct. 26 at the MBC’s 175th annual meeting.
The pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, McCoy read Paul’s advice to his young protégé as recorded in 2 Timothy 4:1-5:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
“We’re in a state with spiritual war,” he said. “Some of the most capable people I’ve ever known in the ministry are now casualties of this spiritual war. For some it has been a moral failure. For all too many of you, it has been the result of friendly fire. Others just have a broken spirit.”
But McCoy said there is another way to become a casualty of the war.
“We must learn to convince, rebuke and exhort. These three words are the difference between a life of regret and a life of reward. If you forget these three words, you become a casualty. The art is knowing when to convince, when to rebuke, and when to exhort.”
McCoy received a standing ovation as he closed by putting his own twist on a famous war-time challenge by Winston Churchill:
“We are living in a spiritual war,” he said. “Some day I will walk the streets of glory when the war is over. And I will say to the student minister, ‘Where were you when the war was on?’ Let every student minister say, ‘I was taking kids to camp, to Christian concerts and convincing them to faith, I preached the Word. I did it for family and for my Savior.’
“I will say to the gifted pastor, ‘Where were you while the war was on?’ And that man of God will say ‘I was confronting the confused culture, convincing them of the truth of God’s Word, I rebuked the wayward, and exhorted the discouraged. I did it for my family and for my Savior.’
“I will meet one who was offended and hurt by the careless words and thoughtless deeds of another. And I will ask ‘Where were you while the war was on?’ Let every wounded heart say ‘I was exhorted to the altar, forgiving my brother and praying for more grace and a clear conscience. I did it for my family and for my Savior.’
“I will ask the one who earned wages, ‘Where were you while the war was on?’ Let every wage earner say, ‘I was giving of my tithe in the offering plate, honoring God with my giving, so that my church was fully funded and we could give to the Cooperative Program and do missions all across the world and across our state. I did it for my family and for my Savior.’
“And I will ask you, brothers and sisters at the 175th meeting of the MBC, where were you while the war was on?”