These days people ask me lots of questions. As Missouri Baptists’ new executive director, people are feeling out my philosophy of ministry.
Perspective is important. One of the reasons corporations bring in consultants and even leaders from outside the organization is because they need a different perspective from the one that is currently operating in their environment. (Consider Nehemiah’s leadership model.)
When you are on the inside, you tend to measure certain things differently than you would if you are outside looking in.
Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had opportunity to study the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) from the outside looking in. As a newbie, I offer the following observations:
1. MBC churches are composed of thousands of godly men, women and students who want God’s purposes to be fulfilled through them.
2. MBC churches are confident their contributions to the Cooperative Program and the mission offerings are arriving at their respective mission destinations. MBC accounting protocols are impeccable.
3. MBC churches want to cooperate. There seems to be a new era dawning where the Lord is raising up leaders with biblical and missional integrity to stand on the shoulders of the faithful warriors of the past. We want to be engaged in souls saved, churches started, increases in Cooperative Program and mission offerings, offering helping hands to those in need. There is much Kingdom work to do and we can do it best cooperatively.
4. The MBC Disaster Relief and Baptist Builders coordinators and volunteers are some of the best in the world. Legends are told about some of our people who lend a helping hand while sharing a message of hope.
5. The MBC mission partnership network is highly valued for effectiveness. No state convention is poised to engage and embrace lost multitudes like Missouri Baptists. The people of the “Show Me” state were made for such a time as this. We want to be on mission with God.
1. There is a sense that trust has been broken by previous choices made by former leadership, institutional mutiny and broken promises. This means that we must be doubly attentive to integrity, communications, encouragement, restoration and consensus building. Trust must be earned and it takes time. Generosity follows trust. As trustworthiness is regained, our churches will rediscover the incredible impact of Cooperative Program giving.
2. The MBC brand is damaged. In the realm of corporate identities, the MBC image is not so much what you say it is—it is what people on the outside say it is. Would people outside characterize MBC as a cooperative network of churches mobilized to reach their state, the nation and the world? What does it take for us to partner together as churches, associations and state convention to build a network of missional relationships? What must we do to be known as the compassionate, convictional people who make the Lord famous in our state? Through faith in our Lord and by loving one another, we can find solutions to restore our name as a people of courageous, convictional faith who love our God and the people He has made.
3. Discouragement among the brethren. These are difficult days of ministry. Our culture has grown hostile in many contexts about the gospel and toward the messengers of redemption. Instead of giving place to a spirit of discouragement, let us not lose faith but press forward for the cause of Christ.
A call to action
There are some simple things we can do to make a huge difference in the days ahead:
1. We must begin on our knees. We can all pray and call out to the Lord in humility. He wills to do a transformational work in us, in our state, in our nation. He is working in powerful ways to draw us to Himself. We must begin to see more clearly the vision God has for the lives of people. To join Him, we must start with prayer.
2. Look around us. Lost people without Christ are everywhere. Pray for them by name and pray for one another.
3. Encourage someone. Who is in your world that you can encourage today? A family member, someone you do business with, a teacher, a friend, the Walmart greeter, a convictional pastor, a courageous elected official, someone who has poured themselves into your life? Speak to them a word of gratefulness, write them a short note, text them or call them on the phone.
JOHN YEATS / MBC Executive Director