The past several weeks have been quite painful for our Southern Baptist Convention. We have watched leaders fall, boards stumble, friends get hurt, and our worst side has been dispayed on world-wide media outlets. This is not our finest hour and we have not helped ourselves.
All week I have wondered what, if anything, I should write. So many have already written good pieces, well timed warnings, and even stern challenges.
My message for the past several months, with regard to the SBC has been:
- They sky is not falling.
- Now is not the time to give up.
- We have a mission and a message that others need to hear.
These sentiments have been tested this week; but, though I am very sad about all that has happened, I think it is important to remember that the Southern Baptist Convention cannot be reduced to these events or these men.
Below you can read two clips from my past writings that I hope some will find these an encourage reminder of the blessing the Southern Baptist Convention can be.
FROM: “Reasons to Stay in the SBC”
The SBC is not a twitter handle:
- We are teams serving in hurricane ravaged areas, bringing hope to desperate people
- We are hundreds of young men and women who will graduate and go bravely into difficult areas of ministry and mission.
- We are missionary teams from hundreds of local churches partnering with long term missionaries around the world, bringing the light of the gospel into the darkness
- We are churches across this country that, week after week, labor in our communities to spread the healing balm of Jesus to families, neighborhoods, and individuals.
- We are preachers who study, pray, and preach.
- We are missionaries who are struggling to live in foreign countries, but who do so with joy because of the gospel.
- We are regular men and women, teenagers, boys, and girls who struggle to live for Jesus in a world that desperately needs to know him.
The list could go on but I think we get the point.
The uniqueness of the SBC can be found in our cooperative spirit and structure. This means we are tightly connected and that what one entity does, impacts us all.
There is also a great strength in our cooperative efforts. We make a grave mistake when we reduce cooperation to financial contributions. Certainly supporting the Cooperative Program is central to our work. However, this cannot be the sum total of our working together.
Consider some of the many ways Southern Baptist churches can cooperate. A Southern Baptist church is cooperative when:
• it sends a short-term mission team to serve alongside an International Mission Board missionary who was sent out by a different local church and is supported by our convention of churches
• it mobilizes members to work with a church plant in North America or serves a role in the revitalization of a church in a struggling area
• it’s members work alongside members of other Southern Baptist churches as part of disaster relief teams, to adopt a local school, or to engage in local community outreach
• it receives college or seminary students as a stewardship from their home churches; as these students mature and sense God’s call to ministry, the mission field, or a professional career, both churches can celebrate the fruit of discipleship
• it hires a seminary student and patiently grooms him for service in another church or on the mission field
• it partners with other local churches to fulfill strategic association or state convention initiatives
• it utilizes its people and resources to partner with other local churches in engaging and planting churches among various people groups locally, nationally, or globally
• it empowers other ethno-linguistic people groups to plant new Southern Baptist churches that effectively reach that group
• it strategically works with other local churches to reach, engage, and minister within their community.
• it seeks opportunities to partner with other churches to train and equip their members for ministry.
It is my sincenest prayer that Southern Baptists will receive the events of the past week as God’s gracious hand of discipline. That we will learn, grow, and become the Convention He wants us to be. We have not arrived, but we have potential. Let’s commit to work together for the glory of our Lord.