February sees winter roaring into Missouri and across middle America. Historic multiple days of cold and frozen precipitation, coupled with COVID-19 cautions, are like a perfectly planted gut punch in a boxing match for many of our churches.
Missouri Baptist pastors, like their colleagues in many other states, have worked diligently and faithfully to help their churches stay on mission. Many of our churches are reporting upswings in baptisms and budgets. Yet, there are too many struggling with budget droughts and baptistry dry spells.
In times like these, we learn in a fresh way how much we need the Lord and each other. Pastors need a network of colleagues and prayer partners. While churches start with locally focused strategies, churches also desperately need to work with other churches for local, state, national, and international ministries.
The state missionary staff has been encouraged with the news about extraordinary “pastor prayer meetings.” We hear from all corners of our state how three to six pastors meet on a regular basis for a time of Spirit-led articulation. They are taking the time to listen to God’s heart and crying out to Him on a host of issues.
Peter Lord was a great disciple-maker in the realm of living the basics of the Christian life. He reminded us that, when we pray, we must look beyond what is just impacting us to see Him — that is, to focus on our Lord. We need a vision that trusts our great God to do great things through His people — to do the impossible in tough times.
The timing of this column is perfect for me to discuss with you the SBC Executive Committee in Nashville, Feb. 22-23. There are many issues before the SBC Executive Committee. This committee deliberates budgets, miscellaneous convention matters referred to them, and ministry relationships between the International Mission Board, North American Mission Board, six SBC seminaries, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee, is challenging the entire people of God known as Southern Baptists with a vision to trust God for the impossible — for a change of perspective from the “immediate” to a “vision” that positions us to experience a Kingdom movement of God’s Holy Spirit.
He is challenging Southern Baptists for an unprecedented harvest of people surrendering their lives to Christ. This is not so churches have more people, more numbers, and larger budgets. This is a movement for the glory of the Lord. Our Lord’s desire is for every people, every nation, every language group to receive Christ.
To help our convention with this eternity-minded, God-prescribed goal, Dr. Floyd has outlined five action items:
(1) Increase our total number of full-time, fully funded missionaries by a net gain of 500, giving us 4,200 full-time, fully funded missionaries through the IMB. MBC state missionaries are asking the Lord to call out 100 units from Missouri.
(2) Add 6,000 new churches to our Southern Baptist family, giving us more than 50,000 churches. We are asking the Lord to help us identify 300 sending Missouri churches to plant churches here, there and everywhere.
(3) Increase our total number of workers in the field through a new emphasis on “calling out the called,” and then preparing those who are called out by the Lord. We pray the Lord will use our ministries to “call out the called” and send them to our three Missouri Baptist universities to be equipped for next-generation ministries.
(4) Turn around our ongoing decline in reaching, baptizing, and discipling 12- to 17-year-olds in the prime of their teenage years. May the Lord give us the capacity to see from these new converts at least 100 ministry and missionary students at each of our universities.
(5) Increase our annual giving in successive years to reach and surpass $500 million given through the Cooperative Program to achieve these Great Commission goals. We ask the Lord to help MBC churches discover an increasing number of people who are practicing foundational tithing and generous giving above the tithe.
With all the trash talk about the SBC on social media, and some out-right lies by some bloggers, a coming together in a common vision is impossible by humanistic efforts. But what are we willing to trust God for? Historically, in our nation, when we have faced unprecedented, difficult times, people awakened to their need to trust our God who hears. Could this be our moment?
Let’s join with Dr. Floyd as he leads our convention to take the saving message of Jesus Christ to millions of lost souls throughout our communities, states, nation and the globe.