SPRINGFIELD – During the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting here, Oct. 26, Executive Director John Yeats highlighted the reorientation of the MBC staff around a mission grounded in the historical purpose for which the convention was founded and around the MBC’s vision for the future.
Yeats urged Missouri Baptists to embrace a sense of urgency as they engage a culture desperately in need of the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.
Starting two years ago, Yeats challenged the MBC missionary staff to face the brutal facts – not just declining baptisms and other traditional metrics, but a gaping disconnect between Christ’s command to make disciples and the number of Christians engaged in missional living.
Yeats explained that the message he delivered in 2011 delineated the functions of a state convention. By structuring the MBC around those functions, the MBC gained the time to adequately pray, research and strategize for the future.
“The functions still exist, and that work must be done,” he said. “But we need to be laser focused on helping Missouri Baptists fulfill a vision that is ‘Kingdom-sized.’”
We need to be laser focused on helping Missouri Baptists fulfill a vision that is ‘Kingdom-sized.’ – John Yeats
Yeats said that a survey of Missouri Baptist church leaders, as well as other research, has revealed many positive trends, but also a drift away from the historic purpose for which the convention was founded.
“What’s the remedy for mission drift?” he asked. “A return to the mission for which the MBC was established: to cooperate with Missouri Baptists to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.”
Yeats led a reorientation of the convention staff. One component was the development of the MBC missionary staff’s vision and mission. The vision states, “Transforming lives and communities with the gospel,” and the mission states, “To make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.”
“The return to our historic mission requires us to think and act differently,” he said. “Together, for this moment in Kingdom history, we can labor together to accomplish the purpose for which God has called all Missouri Baptists.”
Yeats provided further elaboration about the MBC’s reorientation:
- A priority on developing people. “First, our mission and vision mean the MBC missionary staff is shifting from a program-driven organization to a people-development organization.”
- A strategically driven staff. “While we continue to counsel with church leaders and respond to their needs, we are strategically driven to transform lives and communities with the gospel. Therefore, we are not primarily a provider of religious goods and services to churches, but a strategic leader offering a clear, compelling, and cooperative vision for Missouri Baptists.”
- A kingdom orientation. “We are strengthening our focus on the kingdom of God. Our greatest service to Missouri Baptists and their churches is to partner with them in seeking first the Kingdom, understanding that Christ preached the Kingdom in dozens of passages.”
- A commitment to accountability. “Finally, we are changing the scorecard we use to measure success – and we are seeking the input of Missouri Baptists to accomplish this. While it’s important to collect and analyze data on worship attendance, baptisms, and giving, there are other milestones that may help us better determine the degree to which we are transforming lives and communities with the gospel.”
“The Lord has set a course for our lives,” Yeats said, in conclusion. “He has called us to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders. He has gifted us and placed us in the communities where we live and work today. And one day we will stand before Jesus and give an account of how faithfully we walked the path of He purposed for us.
“Let’s determine together to walk the forward path of purposefulness He laid out for us … to seek to transform lives and communities with the gospel … by making disciples, multiplying churches, and developing leaders.”
The video of Yeats’ presentation, along with other resources relating to the MBC vision and mission, are available at mobaptist.org/transform.