By Allen Palmeri
BRANSON— Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver continued during February casting his church health vision to influential Missouri Baptists by spending 75 minutes Feb. 16 with the state’s directors of missions here at the Radisson Hotel.
Tolliver, who previously met with MBC staffers and an Organizational Study Group (OSG) charged with doing research and reporting back findings concerning the MBC’s future, gave a 40-minute talk at the DOM Winter Conference before fielding various questions in a relaxed manner. The vision calls for Missouri Baptists to be a people who are spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he tied it to believers living out the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-31).
“As we’re doing that, I’m convinced we’re going to be living in fellowship with one another, we’re going to be enabling one another, we’re going to be involved in each other’s lives and fulfill the Great Commission, which is to make disciples,” Tolliver said.
“If we can enable and encourage our churches to do that, they’ll be healthier, we will then be healthier.”
Tolliver urged the DOMs to “set the table” for this vision, which includes regaining ground that has been lost in the area of discipleship training.
He told of his last pastorate at Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs. The church used to do discipleship training Sunday night, stopping in the summer and resuming in the fall. That led to fewer and fewer people returning until it was halted two years before Tolliver arrived.
“We began doing discipleship training on Sunday night when the normal worship service would go on,” he said. “We began to do discipleship training classes during the Sunday evening worship hour, and I would teach a class. Before I was through, we had discipleship training in homes on Sunday night.”
In the end, Pisgah’s Sunday night attendance doubled.
Tolliver also clued the DOMs in on the work of his newly appointed task force which is blowing the dust off an old piece of furniture in Missouri Baptist churches known as church discipline—a practice that has been largely ignored since the 1950s. The group, which consists of seven MBC staffers, is charged with putting together a “tool belt” that DOMs and local churches can ultimately use to raise the level of church health in Missouri.
“When you have a church that’s in conflict, and specifically if there’s some discipline that needs to be applied, we want to help see that happen redemptively and Biblically,” Tolliver said.
Johnny Johnson, the main speaker for the “Becoming a Culture of Peace” conference, said Tolliver has hit on something with the church discipline emphasis.
“We do need to come back to that wonderful expression of the grace of God that He describes in His Scriptures as church discipline,” Johnson said.
“Jesus said, ‘As many as I love I rebuke and chastise.’ Was His rebuking and chastisement ever intended to defame and defeat and destroy a person? No! What was it intended to do? To reclaim. Church discipline is an act of the love of God in Christ Jesus, reflected through the people to whom He has entrusted the keys to His kingdom, and that’s us.”