EWING – Frank Page was introduced as the “President and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee” to the assembled crowd at the association annual meeting here. But Page was quick to point out he likes to consider his title “Chief Encouragement Officer” as he travels to churches across the Southern Baptist Convention.
Page was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Mt. Salem/Wyaconda Baptist Association at First Baptist, Ewing, on a recent Friday evening. He preached to the messengers and guests about “four things that should happen every time you go to church” based on Isaiah 6:1-8.
He said Isaiah was going through a hard time and he had to learn a hard lesson. His king, Uzziah, had died. The country was in mourning. Isaiah went to the temple.
“There he entered with an attitude of contemplation and prayer,” Page said. He saw “the Lord, high and lifted up,” with “seraphim – angelic beings on both sides.” He worshipped the Lord in that setting, Page said.
“How aware are we of God in our lives?” he asked. “We have forgotten whom we serve.”
Page said, “There was also an element of confession of sin.” Verse 2 and 3 of the text speak of the seraphim crying “Holy, holy, holy,” and Isaiah confessing his sin and was crying “I am ruined.”
But there was an element of “cleansing,” Page said. “He wants us to be forgiven and clean. When we leave church there ought be a sense of sin removed.”
The preacher then concluded from verse 8 that there should be an element of “commitment to the call.” He said, “When worship occurs, God’s people ought to be changed. God asks, ‘Who will go for us?’ and Isaiah answers, ‘I volunteer, I will go,” Page added, “He became one of the greatest prophets the world has ever known.”
In what the director of missions, Chris Kuenzle, described as a glorious result of Dr. Page’s visit, he reported there were “three people who surrendered their lives to Christ after the meeting that night.”
Kuenzle has only been the MSWBA DOM for a month. He said, “I have never heard of salvations happening at an annual meeting, but God proved once again that He is at work here.”
He said two were from First Baptist Church, Lewistown, and had been visiting that church recently, and another was a young man he thought was from Knox County and came to the meeting with some folks from a church there.
Page gathered around the pastors in the audience at the end of the session and prayed for God’s power on them.
Asked by The Pathway about the recently announced cuts in missionary personnel at the International Mission Board, Page said he was “deeply saddened and disappointed anytime funding does not allow for increases, but it is especially sad when cuts have to be made.” He added, “Churches for the past two decades have been deciding to remove support of their denominational missions force. That is the reason (for the cuts). Overall we’ve seen a declination of missions work for twenty years, while philanthropic giving is going up. But not so with the churches.”
He acknowledged many SBC churches are choosing other missions giving avenues in addition to or in place of the Cooperative Program. The SBC recognizes direct giving to missions causes outside the CP as “Great Commission Giving” for reporting purposes. Page said he did not feel the GCR giving option has hurt CP giving, but there has been an overall decline in missions support.
Page was asked if he had any words of encouragement for bivocational pastors in an association where most all of the pastors are bivocational and the part-time director of missions also serves as a church staff member at the FBC Ewing church. He said to “bivo” pastors, “You are not alone” and he considers them to be the “real heroes” of the SBC.
He thinks small associations are “re-inventing themselves.” Page added, “Those associations that resource churches will succeed. Those that think the churches are there to serve the association will die.”
He is encouraged that there are presently 18,000 students in Southern Baptist seminaries and he predicts “there is a great day ahead for them.”