By Allen Palmeri
RAYTOWN—Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver laid out his vision for the future Oct. 26 at First Baptist Church here during his address to messengers on the opening night of the MBC’s 175th annual meeting.
Tolliver sees Missouri Baptists as a people who are spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“We’re on a path that leads to church health,” Tolliver said.
Tolliver said “church health is the assignment that God’s given to me,” but some Missouri Baptists have balked at his vision.
“It would be much easier, and frankly way more acceptable, to cast a vision that we start 100 new churches every year, or let’s baptize 15,000 this year,” Tolliver said. “Those are the kinds of goals that people want to hear. Whether or not we ever hope to achieve those goals, we’re perceived to be visionary if we set them.
“It would be much easier to start 100 new churches next year than it will be to bring 1,978 churches to health. In fact, I’ll go a step further. It would be easier to start 100 churches next year than it will be to bring 100 churches to health in the coming year.”
Spiritually healthy Christians are saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, and surrendered, Tolliver said.
“Commitment will be required,” he said.
Coming together in healthy churches means congregations that are filled. Fellowship in these settings is expected, and focus is being placed on the kingdom of Christ with its preeminent Great Commission, prominent discipleship, and prerequisite holiness.
“It is an act of Christian love to hold accountable your brothers and sisters in Christ, and in fact to properly apply discipline in the church,” he said.
The third phrase of the Missouri Baptist vision statement concerns going to an unhealthy world. Tolliver preached that the world is helpless, hopeless, and hell-bound.
“Surely I don’t need to say much at this point,” he said.
Tolliver then concluded his message by lifting up the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Blessed Gospel will change your conscience, character, church, and community, he said.
“It’s past time to get busy doing it,” he said.
Tolliver was a 22-month interim executive director before having the interim dropped from his title in February. Before that he served nearly two years as the MBC’s Cooperative Program leader. He is a former president of the MBC and a fourth-generation Missouri Baptist preacher who yearns for the day when Missouri Baptists will have 20/20 vision (Proverbs 29:18).
“We’re just going to have to get on the ball,” he said.