OSAGE BEACH—If Sesame Street characters had denominational ties, Neil Franks is certain which one would be Baptist – Count Von Count.
“He is a guy obsessed with counting,” Franks said of the television character. “And we as a people, as a denomination, are obsessed with counting.”
The theme “Count All As Loss” was presented by Franks during three sessions of the annual meeting at Tan-Tar-A. Pastor of First Baptist Church, Branson, Franks used humor and creative approaches for the theme interpretation of Philippians 3:1-11.
“Sometimes I wonder if we are counting the things that really count,” he said. “Ultimately, our calling is not to raise the number of people in Sunday School.”
The Apostle Paul considered things that may have appeared important, such as education and standing in religious circles, as loss, Franks said.
Franks also touched on the consideration of a possible new name for the Southern Baptist Convention. He showed a map of the United States with a county-by-county display of religious preference, with Southern Baptists very strong throughout the South, but sporadic in other parts of the nation.
“We get into a discussion of what we have been versus what we will become,” Franks said. “When we have that discussion, we always come back to the same intersection of our lives – will we look toward the past or will we look toward the future?”
Franks told the messengers he turned 40 this year, and as he gets older, he finds himself being pulled back to the past where things were enjoyable. But Philippians 3 is clear that the past is a nice place to visit, but it is not good to live there.
“I know that it’s hard and there are tough places to minister,” Franks said. “I know you may not be able to do all you used to do, but you can do something. We have to forget the past whether it was good or bad and we must press on toward the call.”
He encouraged Baptists at the annual meeting to count all as loss and focus on the prize.
“I really don’t care what they call us as long as I am called home and told ‘Well done good and faithful servant,’” he said. “May we be God’s people and may we run the race to win the prize for the high calling of Jesus Christ.”
SUSAN MIRES/contributing writer