Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver’s address to the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board Dec. 14, for me, was his most important to date. It wasn’t so much due to any details, because there were few, but more the spirit and hope it engendered. It was both a call for Missouri Southern Baptists to join hands and move forward into the future as well as an expression of gratitude for our past – both to the glory of God the Father.
As I continue to think about it, it has the feel of something historic. It got me thinking if this could be a Joshua 4:6-7 “moment.” Like the Israelite’s historic crossing of the Jordan, his address made me feel, as a convention, we are crossing over into something momentous. In fact, at one point I leaned over to Pathway Associate Editor Allen Palmeri and whispered, “We are witnessing something historically important.” He nodded in agreement.
When you consider all that Southern Baptists have been through in the past two decades and to have arrived at this point and hear Tolliver point us down a path for the future – albeit general in nature for now – makes me believe this was a defining moment in the life of the MBC. Through the victorious battle for the Bible and conservative theology, two contentious changes in executive director leadership, and to persevere amidst the dreadful, but necessary legal fights, Tolliver’s words remind us, that by the grace of God, we have endured. In fact, we are now moving forward for the cause of Christ.
In coming issues, you will be reading about the new CORE values that have been developed by MBC staff leadership and the necessary restructuring that the Organizational Study Committee (OSG) will be recommending to the Executive Board at its April meeting. It is a restructuring in response to the new CORE values and what is expected to be a significant philosophical change in the MBC staff’s approach to ministry. One geared toward how we can most efficiently and effectively serve MBC-affiliated churches. It is a monumental task, but one that has great potential for launching the MBC into a new, productive era of servanthood ministry.
Tolliver emphasized that the forthcoming changes are not driven by the dramatic modifications occurring throughout the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) as a result of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR). In fact, he rightly noted that the OSG’s restructuring work began six months before GCR ever started. It is interesting to note that Tolliver’s address also included his sharing to the board of the Iowa Baptist Convention’s request to explore a closer relationship with the MBC, one that could conceivably lead to a merger.
All this has a feel of destiny for us under the providential hand of a gracious God. I came away feeling that God has indeed called us for a great work and that Missouri Southern Baptists are going to lead the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention into a new epoch of ministry.
But as much as Tolliver’s remarks made me hopeful for a fresh and exciting future, it also harkened to our past. He also emphasized the conservative tree from whence we were hewn. It is not only who we are, but it is also how we arrived to this seemingly historical moment.
When God sent me here to serve Missouri Southern Baptists, I came with a passion to see the conservative resurgence lead to a period where Missouri churches would become holy houses with holy hands worshipping and serving a holy God. Fighting evil wherever it reared its ugly head and proclaiming to all “The Good News” that Jesus saves.
As we close out 2010, I hope you will be encouraged by what is happening in the MBC. As we enter 2011, please pray, asking God to bless us by using us to do a great and mighty work for Him, one that would bring honor and glory to Him. My prayer for the coming year comes from Romans 15:5: “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Happy New Year. God bless you.
DON HINKLE / editor