Great Commission Christians, in Great Commission churches, transforming communities with the Gospel. That mission statement was the closing sentence in my last Pathway article. I wondered, when I wrote that sentence, if anyone would pick up on the similarities as well as the differences between that statement and the vision statement I offered at the at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting last fall. Some did. I have been somewhat surprised but also pleased at the number of Missouri Baptists who noticed and asked about it.
So, let me explain.
At the annual meeting last year and in earlier Pathway articles, I clarified what was the vision statement of the MBC. We said that Missouri Baptists are seeking to become spiritually healthy Christians, coming together in healthy churches, going to an unhealthy world with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ. Frankly, I went to great lengths to promote and explain that statement. I tried to use the momentum of the statement and the “coming and going” analogy to emphasize the critical need and genuine possibilities for authentic, enduring health in our Missouri Baptist churches.
Recently, however, I learned that the vision statement was not catching on. The Organizational Study Group (OSG) met with MBC Staff and Executive Board members. They asked penetrating questions and received valuable feedback. One of the findings discovered in those listening session is the fact that the vision statement had not opened the eyes of the staff or the Executive Board.
Carlisle Driggers, legendary retired Executive Director of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, is serving as a mentor to me and as consultant to the OSG. Most importantly he has become a dear friend. Driggers is an E. F. Hutton kind of man. Do you remember the old E. F. Hutton commercials and the way that everyone listened when E. F. Hutton spoke? That’s Carlisle Driggers. And, when Dr. Driggers told me that the vision statement was not catching on among Missouri Baptists, I knew the vision itself was too important to be sacrificed by a flawed statement. The statement had to be changed. The Executive Team went to work. We have changed the vision statement but not the vision. Church health is still the priority in the MBC.
And, those of you—and, I know there are only a few, but those who recall the original vision statement will also recognize that Spiritually healthy Christians are Great Commission Christians. As well, those who are in Great Commission churches are, indeed, coming together in healthy churches. And surely, going to an unhealthy world will result in transforming communities. And, as we go with the Gospel we are, in fact, going with the healing Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the last MBC annual meeting, we described those who are spiritually healthy Christians. We said that they are saved, spirit-filled, sanctified and surrendered to the Lord, Jesus Christ. The same is true of Great Commission Christians—those who “…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”.
In that same message, we described healthy churches as churches that are filled with spiritually healthy Christians. They are churches where genuine fellowship is enjoyed. And, they are churches focusing on the Kingdom of God. In other words, they are in Great Commission churches—churches that are continually “…making disciples” and “…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The unhealthy world was illustrated as helpless, hopeless and hell-bound. But transforming communities will always be the result when Great Commission Christians, working through Great Commission churches take the healing Gospel to the unhealthy world.
Finally, when we do not go to the unhealthy world empty handed. We go with the Gospel. That is the whole Gospel. Healthy, Great Commission churches are churches going to an unhealthy world, “…teaching them to observe all things that I [Jesus] have commanded you.”
So here it is. God’s vision, I believe, for the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Great Commission Christians
“ Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…”
In Great Commission churches
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,…”
“…teaching them to observe that I have commanded you;…”
With the Gospel.
“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”