Missouri Baptists are incredible people. The practices of the vast majority of our churches demonstrate incredible qualities that point people to the King of kings. Who or what can be compared to our Lord Jesus?
When Missouri Baptists convened to hear great ministry reports, vote on cooperative budgets and policies, elect trustees for our entities, express perspective through resolutions, hear great preaching and fellowship with colleagues from across the state, we always pray for and yearn for the sweetness of the Lord’s presence.
The year 2020 may be marred by shutdown, but the presence of the Lord invaded the building. To miss that was to miss what was most important. To miss that probably meant there was another something in a person’s heart.
The word of God was courageously preached at both the Pastor’s Conference (thanks, Richard Clouse) and the annual meeting. Every message came from godly men like Ronnie Floyd, Jeremy Muniz, and Al Mohler, who shared a fresh word from the Lord to encourage the people of God to live on mission with Him. Each message may be viewed online at mobaptist.org/annual-meeting.
The absolute highlight of the 2020 annual meeting was the selection of Jon Nelson as MBC president. Jon is both a young leader and a wise listener. He is both convictional and compassionate. He is both a learner and one to teach us about living out the truth in the context of our diverse culture. He is a man of God whose time has come to lead the people of God called Missouri Baptists. Pray for him, his wife Heather, and their children.
Did you see the 38 new pastors to our state who attended the annual meeting and were recognized the first evening? Two things I noticed among the new pastors: (1) many are coming in from out of state; and (2) several are becoming pastors after a time of serving in a mentoring relationship with a previous pastor. These items point to something unusual for our times. The Lord is up to something special.
After messengers approved SBU’s governing documents, the joy that flooded my heart was almost overwhelming. It has been a long, arduous journey, involving many people to upgrade our documents to maximize the legal identity and protections of the Convention and its six entities: The Missouri Baptist Foundation, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Hannibal-LaGrange University, Missouri Baptist University, and Southwest Baptist University. Much applause needs to be given to all the people involved, from MBC presidents, dedicated laypersons, committed pastors, presidents of the entities, the chairperson of each board, Baptist attorneys, and even grammarians.
As with all governing documents, it doesn’t mean we won’t have to tweak them a little here or there to help keep the focus on the mission of each institution, but we have solid lines of authority and a process to help us all stay on course together. Thanks to the hard work now, there is no protracted litigation with our entities on the horizon.
An obvious characteristic of the 2020 annual meeting was civility. Even though we experienced some lively discussions about resolutions and some of the reports, the tenor in the room was that of civility. The MBC annual meeting is the largest democratic busines meeting in the state of Missouri. Every messenger has the right to make a motion or to question those in charge about the processes. The way Missouri Baptists conducted themselves was a testimony of mutual respect and civility.
These are qualities needed in our local, state, and national context. I wrote a column in 2018 for Baptist Press that had particular application to the SBC and the rancor we experienced prior to the convention. In the turmoil of 2020, perhaps we need to re-read the insights (https://www.baptistpress.com/resource-library/news/first-person-civility-amid-the-commotion/).
While our direct international mission engagement is tenuous due to the global pandemic, we opened up a new north American partnership with Montana and celebrated our work in Minnesota/Wisconsin. To date, more than 65 Missouri Baptist churches have worked with the churches in Minnesota/Wisconsin. One of the best ways to help your church learn the value of mission work is to start locally and move toward other states (like Montana or Minnesota/Wisconsin), and then to the world. MBC missionaries will help you connect.
Next year’s annual meeting is scheduled for Branson, Oct. 25-26. We start with a Pastor’s Preaching Conference. Ted Middleton has already begun to line up the speakers. The annual meeting will feature both Paul Chitwood of the International Mission Board and Pastor Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Church, Dallas, Texas.
Remember, our work together is a process. We place the good seed in the ground, water is applied, and we anticipate a harvest. Because God is moving among His people, and because His people are cooperating together, we anticipate an unprecedented harvest.