At the end of the month, a significant event takes place at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a symposium on the Southern Baptist Convention.
September 28-29, “The SBC and the 21st Century: Reflection,” Renewal and Recommitment has the potential to be a defining moment about how Southern Baptists work together to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
Big time Southern Baptist leaders are converging on the campus of MBTS to make presentations and engage in dialogue. SBC leaders scheduled to be present include SBC president Ronnie Floyd, SBC Executive Committee president Frank Page, LifeWay president Thom Rainer, and academicians David Dockery, Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson.
Go to www.mbts.edu to find out additional information and registration details.
These are important days for Southern Baptists to be pulling together. The recent news from the International Mission Board breaks our hearts. Like our state conventions and some national entities have been doing over the last five years, the IMB needs to remodel its organizational mechanics, and downsizing is part of that process.
David Platt should receive kudos for his courage in addressing the issues. However, there are too many lost people in the world who slip into a Christ-less eternity because they are waiting on us to deploy more God-called people who are assessed, equipped, and commissioned to go to the ends of the earth.
To address the challenges facing us, MBTS president Jason Allen recently wrote an important article based on a presentation to the Midwest region executive directors about the importance of churches pulling together through the national and state/regional conventions. He challenged Southern Baptists to focus on:
“Mission clarity—we must vigilantly maintain mission clarity. Like Midwestern Seminary, all ministries that are intended to serve the church must do just that – serve the church. Churches founded us, they fund us, and they expect us to serve them.
“How we best serve the church will vary from entity to entity and state to state. Nonetheless, we must know the needs and expectations of the churches we serve. We should study them, listen to them and give our energies and resources for them.
“Optimal stewardship—given the financial limitations most every Christian organization experiences, optimal stewardship is a must. Mission clarity informs optimal stewardship.
“These days, answering hard questions about perceived duplicative ministries, mission creep and overstaffing, among other things, are standard operating procedure. These questions should be welcome and humbly responded to with clear and compelling answers.
“Generational transition—Southern Baptists are now experiencing a generational transition that touches nearly every aspect of our work. At the national level, young entity heads like Russell Moore, David Platt and myself are indicative of this transition. At the state convention level, generational transition is the norm as well.
“Incorporating the millennial generation does not give away our future; it ensures it. This must include more than trying to sell them on the Cooperative Program. The millennial generation, like every generation, will support that which they are passionate about.
“Value added—as Southern Baptists we have a great story to tell. The health of our entities, the unique effectiveness of the Cooperative Program, the training and deploying of thousands of ministers and missionaries, and so much more are compelling reasons to be committed Southern Baptists.
“For Midwestern Seminary, I want our value to Southern Baptist churches to be so obvious and impactful that churches reflexively look to us to serve them. That is a worthy goal for our state conventions –and every denominational entity – as well.
“A compelling vision is never in the past tense. We must project what we are doing now and what, by God’s grace, we intend to do in the future. If that vision does not resonate with our churches, we must be willing to course correct until it does.
“Inherited brand loyalty left town long ago, and it is not likely to come back anytime soon. We must make our case continually before our churches, and, thankfully, we have a makeable case.
“The executive directors with whom I visited are friends, colleagues and cherished ministry partners. They, and the entities they lead, are doing good Gospel work, often under challenging financial circumstances.
“Both the national and state conventions serve the same constituency – Southern Baptist churches. The SBC will thrive inasmuch as our state conventions thrive, and vice versa. As we most faithfully listen to and serve those churches, we will most complement one another, and our respective ministries will most flourish,” (excepts from BP article, Sept. 3, 2015).
“Pulling together on mission is powerful stuff. Part of being servant leaders is learning to release individuality and join the team. Like a football team moves the ball down the field with all kinds of players with various roles, it is still one team. Individuals may make a few plays but the consistently good teams pull together to serve one another and fulfill the mission.
Sharon and I say thank you to our Missouri Baptist family for your prayer, love and support. Over the course of one month both our mom’s went home to be with the Lord. We are grateful for their Christian testimony, values and legacy. We are indebted to you for your expressions of love toward us.