Last September, SBC President Ronnie Floyd asked me, “When Southern Baptists come to St. Louis, how many messengers can we expect from Missouri?”
I thought for a moment and looked at the number of messengers from Ohio at last year’s Annual Meeting and thought, “According to Jim Wells’ registration report, the churches in Ohio sent 723. Surely, we can do better than that.”
With great confidence I told Dr. Floyd, “The Lord is doing a fresh work in our state. You can expect at least 1,000 from the Show Me State.”
There are many reasons to prepare for and participate in the Southern Baptist Annual Meeting but none as important as what is prepared for the evening of June 14. According to Dr. Floyd, the entire session is committed to praying for spiritual leaders, our churches, nation and the world.
“There, perhaps, has never been a time in our generation when we have needed to pray more than now,” says Floyd. He has asked the convention leaders in Missouri and Illinois to pass the word about the SBC Annual Meeting in St. Louis, June 14-15.
In my 19 years of service as SBC Recording Secretary, I have witnessed up close and personal every session of every Annual Meeting. I can say last year’s Tuesday night national call to prayer was one of the greatest events ever at the SBC. Imagine the impact of 7,000 Baptists crying out to the Lord in concert.
Once again, Dr. Floyd is convening God’s people called Southern Baptists to a national call to prayer. And we desperately need to do so! Think about all that has taken place in our world and in our nation, the state of many of our churches and needs of our pastors, the pandemic of lostness in our world while we deflate our full-time missionary force. It is time to cry out to the Lord!
Dr. Floyd writes, “Baptists need to pour into St. Louis by the thousands for this historic night of prayer. Those who can only attend one night, please come.” I could not agree more. This is a moment in history. It’s the kind of meeting you tell your grandchildren about – that you were there when Holy God met with His people in their desperate hour.
What can we expect to happen? Who knows the mind of the Lord? But as for preparations for this special session, here is what Dr. Floyd says we can expect:
“1. Spiritual Leadership: We will pray for pastors and spiritual leaders in America… their lives, leadership, families, and ministries.
“2. Revived Churches: We will pray for our churches in America… for racial unity in our churches and nation, and for the dry bones of spiritual life in our churches to come alive. Our God can turn any church around!
“3. Nationwide & Global Awakening: We will pray for America… for the next Great Spiritual Awakening as well as an explosion of the Gospel to bring about global awakening.
It is time to register messengers to the SBC Annual Meeting
Something new happened in 2015. The SBC adopted different guidelines for messengers from the churches. The SBC Constitution, Article III, was updated to give every church at least 2 messengers and possibly 10 more. The additional 10 are qualified by the church’s giving to the Cooperative Program and percentage giving counts.
For example, the church Sharon and I are members of gives 10 percent to the Cooperative Program. So, our 4-year-old church has two messengers plus the additional 10 for a total of 12 messengers to the SBC. Check the guidelines at www.sbcannualmeeting.net.
Other important happenings at the SBC
Perhaps none are as important as the selection of the president of the SBC. Dr. Floyd is term-limited but has shown himself to be an extraordinary, energetic, enthusiastic advocate for our common mission and the Cooperative Program. One would hope that the next president jumps into his shoes and continues to wave the flag for the Cooperative Program.
Why is this so important? Because the life-blood of our national cooperative ministries is the Cooperative Program. Designated giving or Great Commission giving is good and welcomed. However, Cooperative Program giving through our churches is what sustains the most comprehensive, multi-generational missions strategy in Christian history. It is what gives the largest church or smallest church a stake in touching the world with the gospel strategy.
So, when you cast your ballot for the next SBC president, make certain he is an overt advocate for the Cooperative Program. Three candidates announced their willingness to serve: David Crosby (LA), Steve Gaines (TN) and J.D. Greear (NC). All are good, godly men. Steve Gaines is scheduled to speak at the MBC pastor’s conference and MBC annual meeting in the fall.
Pre-Convention evangelistic push
Crossover occurs prior to the SBC Annual Meeting primarily on June 11. Multiple venues exist for people to have spiritual conversations with lost people who “happen” to show up at an event. Many volunteers are needed. For details contact www.stlbaptist.com/crossover2016.