Mission Lab 2018

2016: Year in Review

January 2nd, 2017 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments

Since I’m not a prophet I will not try to forecast what will happen in 2017; however, I have 20\20 hindsight vision. Here are some notable moments in review of 2016.

The day after Christmas 2015 a tornado rampaged through Rowlett. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Disaster Relief responded quickly. It was my privilege to preach at FBC Rowlett on Jan. 3, 2016, at the request of Pastor Cole Hedgecock. God moved mightily in the worship time, and doors of ministry continue today because of God’s people serving in times of trial.

I preached 38 times in 2016. I count it a privilege to serve the SBTC, but the preaching ministry will always be my first calling. I did three Revelation Studies, a January Bible Study and numerous testimony opportunities.

As a state executive director I attend meetings with the North American Mission Board, SBC Executive Committee, strategy sessions with other state execs and the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. Many in-state SBTC events are also a part of my calendar throughout the year.

As most of you know, I had extensive open-heart surgery May 4. The doctor replaced my aortic valve and repaired an aneurysm. Some minor complications slowed my recovery, but in about a month I was able to resume a limited schedule. Pastor Adam Dooley at FBC Sunnyvale was gracious enough to let me preach my “coming out sermon” on July 17. At the end of September my cardiologist released me from any restrictions.

Just nine days after my surgery one of my closest friends, Joe Senn, passed away. He had answered the call to preach under my ministry. Later we pastored neighboring churches for a number of years. We traveled to seminary together. Our two oldest children grew up together. His legacy with his family will live on. He will always be a part of my life. Joe never pastored a mega church. His last pastorate was located in cotton fields on the bank of a bayou. There are no small pastorates in God’s economy.

Highlights in the SBTC are too numerous to list. The Empower Conference in February was extraordinary. The Equip Conference had over 1,100 staff and laypersons trained in local church ministry. Perhaps the capstone event was the SBTC Annual Meeting. President Nathan Lino gave direction to the program that revolutionized our gathering. Prayer and preaching took the forefront. While we did some necessary business, the Annual Meeting became a spiritual mountaintop experience. I’m already looking forward to November 2017 at Criswell College.

I know I left out many significant happenings for 2016. A presidential election, an excessive number of natural disasters, and historical sporting accomplishments dominated the news. The most important part of 2016 is our faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. To be able to advance the gospel and be a part of the work of God is greater than any headline.

My prayer is that 2017 will be the year our Lord Jesus returns. If he does not, I want to be found doing his will for his glory. Join me in 2017 as we serve him together in the SBTC.

Happy New Year!