The work continues
May 27th, 2020 / By: Jim Richards | Executive Director / comments
Almost every year since I have been writing a column for the June issue of the TEXAN I have addressed the issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention. Unless there is a special called convention, messengers will not gather this year. For the first time since 1945 the SBC is not scheduled to meet. Yet the work of the churches committed to cooperative missions and ministry will continue.
Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, was to present a vision for approval by the messengers in Orlando. The vision is a call to reach every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation. Strategic action plans accompanied the vision. Some of those plans may be adjusted but the vision remains the same. We can still accomplish the vision together.
High on the priority list of Southern Baptists is international missions. When diverse opinions strain our fellowship, we agree on getting the good news of Jesus to the nations. Our missionary force is in some of the darkest places in the world holding forth the light of the gospel. They depend on us back home to hold the rope as they go over the edge.
Our nation is in desperate need of the gospel too! Burgeoning metro centers teaming with people must have new churches. Small towns and rural areas are not exempt. Revitalization of existing churches is crucial. The North American Mission Board is tasked with this assignment. State conventions seek to assist in the effort to reach our country for Christ.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis SBC seminaries concluded their classes online this spring. Missionaries, pastors, church staff and others continue to be trained in the midst of shifting circumstances. Seminary education may take a different form in the future but Southern Baptists have the best delivery system in the world. We have confidence that our seminaries are teaching within the parameters of our faith statement, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
As part of the national family, GuideStone, LifeWay and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission come along side state conventions, churches and individuals to help carry out the Great Commission. The SBC and state conventions are made up of autonomous Baptist churches that voluntarily agree to work together for the furtherance of the gospel. Some coined the phrase, “the Southern Baptist ecosystem.” The SBC is not perfect. There are matters of family business we need to attend. But to neglect or abandon the greatest cooperative evangelical ministry would be tragic.
Although state conventions are not organically tied to the SBC, there is a voluntary cooperation that provides synergism. State conventions assist local churches in an intimate way. Being closer to the churches state conventions can have a greater personal touch. Church planting and revitalization are both based foundationally on evangelism. Churches can find a ready partner with state conventions to accomplish this kingdom work. Disaster relief is a grass roots endeavor with state conventions offering training and providing direction in times of need. Collegiate, student, women and a myriad of other ministries are supplemented by state conventions.
The three core values of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention speak to the “SBC ecosystem.” We are a group of churches in voluntary cooperation that are biblically based, kingdom focused and missionally driven through a common giving channel. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is our confessional statement. Helping churches carry out the Great Commission is our assignment. Pooling our financial resources through the Cooperative Program is the way we are able to do it.
Apparently there will be no gathering of messengers this year for a convention. However, the work of the SBC continues. Pray, work and give! Hopefully, we will enjoy a family reunion soon.