JEFFERSON CITY – As executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, Dr. John Yeats has taken the lead in a multi-year effort to reorient the MBC staff around a restated vision and mission.
The vision of the MBC missionary staff is: “Transforming lives and communities with the gospel.” The mission for all MBC missionaries is: “Cooperating with Missouri Baptists to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.”
In this Q&A, Yeats addresses the urgency of vision and mission to the future of Missouri Baptists.
Why is a reorientation of the MBC staff necessary?
The hard truth is that despite our best efforts to offer a wide variety of resources and services to Missouri Baptists, the results as measured in baptisms, worship attendance, and other traditional metrics have been trending downward for years. And three out of four Missouri Baptist churches are plateaued or declining.
These brutal facts should break our hearts. One contributing factor is “mission drift,” the natural tendency to move away from our historic reason for existence. Our state missionaries came to the realization that we could not continue to do the same things we had been doing, in the same way, while hoping for different results.
How did you address the “brutal facts?”
We determined to take a hard look at everything we do, from how we are structured to how we allocate the resources entrusted to us by Missouri Baptists. We began several years ago with prayer – calling out to God in repentance and humility and asking Him to grant us wisdom.
Then, we invested thousands of hours in fact finding, research, and intense discussion. This included revisiting the 2011 Organizational Study Group report; commissioning an independent, quantitative statewide survey of pastors, staff, and lay leaders; forming a task force to study other state conventions; conducting focus groups; meeting personally with dozens of leaders across the state; and consulting with recognized Southern Baptist leadership experts.
The result of this painstaking process was a reorientation of staff, strategies, and ministries around a mission grounded in our historical roots – going back to 1835 – and a clear and compelling vision of the future.
Talk a little about the vision of the MBC missionary staff.
The vision is: “Transforming lives and communities with the gospel.” This describes why the MBC exists as an organization and what the missionary staff desires for the Lord to accomplish through us. We are committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus on earth until He returns as King.
And what is the MBC staff’s mission?
It’s simple, and it’s grounded in the convention’s history. Simply put, all MBC staff members are missionaries, cooperating with Missouri Baptists to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.
The mission statement describes who we are as state missionaries, what we do, how we do it, and the value we bring to Missouri Baptists for the sake of the Kingdom.
Why the focus on making disciples, multiplying churches, and developing leaders?
It may be helpful to look back. In 1835, Missouri Baptists adopted a constitution of the newly formed “Central Association,” forerunner of the MBC. The association’s stated goal was to “adopt means and execute plans to promote the preaching of the Gospel in the destitute churches and settlements within the bounds of the state.”
From that day forward, the convention has existed to make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders. And the missionary staff must play a leading role by cooperating with Missouri Baptists to accomplish this mission.
I believe one of the greatest benefits of the reorientation has been to more faithfully align our staff and our ministries to our historic purpose – and to the heart’s desire of all Missouri Baptists. Together, we truly want to see lives and communities transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How has the reorientation changed the structure of the MBC staff?
We are smaller and more sharply focused on our vision and mission. Rather than eight ministry teams that primarily facilitated programs, we are now one team focused on developing people for the sake of the gospel.
Our one team has five strategic emphases: making disciples, multiplying churches, developing leaders, executive office, and ministry support.
By the way, our agencies – the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Southwest Baptist University, and Hannibal-LaGrange University – are great partners in this cooperative effort.
What should Missouri Baptists look for in the months ahead?
We’ve set ambitious goals for this year, and we are well underway. For example, in the area of making disciples, we are recruiting several dozen pastors and youth pastors for a cohort pilot project; attempting to engage all known ministers of education in Missouri in disciple-making plans; and engaging 1,500 students in disciple-making efforts.
In the area multiplying churches, we plan to discover and engage 100 MBC churches in church-planting efforts, and train 75 sending churches and 50 church multipliers.
In developing leaders, we are attempting to connect with 100 current pastors and leaders through network gatherings; engaging 250 church leaders and their families in encouragement or training events; and training 450 new volunteers in disaster relief.
There’s a lot more information about our vision, mission, and one-team philosophy at mobaptist.org/transform, including a downloadable booklet, videos, and an opportunity to provide feedback in the form of questions and comments.
Next: Making disciples –an interview with Matt Kearns