Editor’s note: David W. Johnson is the executive director of the Arizona Mission Network of Southern Baptists.
Recently I was asked to speak at a gathering of pastors in an association in our state. As most denominational leaders know, these meetings can sometimes turn into a discussion of all the things that are wrong with the SBC in light of the turmoil of recent days.
When I expressed this anticipation to the association mission strategist, he suggested that I talk about what is good about being Southern Baptist right now.
What a great idea! What I discovered as I made the following list was that I may have needed it more than the pastors did. I started out with a top 10 list. Then there was a dozen and then 15. I stopped at 18 because I knew the time would be limited. The sum total of the list was more powerful than the specifics of it. You can fill in your own details from your own context. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it was to me!
18 good things about being Southern Baptist right now
- We are reaching the nations together through the International Mission Board to address the world’s greatest problem: lostness!
- We are planting new churches together in our state and across North America through the North American Mission Board.
- We are preparing people for all kinds of ministry through our seminaries around the country.
- We are not doing nothing about sexual abuse. We have recognized the problem and are taking action to address it.
- We are helping people in crisis through Disaster Relief in places that have experienced devastating events like hurricanes, tornadoes, fire and floods.
- We are responding to human needs around the world through Send Relief in refugee camps, clean water wells and famine projects.
- We are staying true to biblical truth as expressed in our shared confession, The Baptist Faith and Message (2000).
- We are helping churches share the Gospel through evangelism training and equipping partnering with the North American Mission Board.
- We are helping feed the poor through hunger relief funds provided by the World Hunger Offering.
- We are reaching college students with the Gospel through collegiate ministries on campuses around the country.
- We are responding to children and families in need through children’s homes and family ministries in our states.
- We are working to revitalize and replant churches in our local associations.
- We have a resource for advocacy and expertise dealing with political issues that affect us through the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
- We are taking care of retired pastors and their widows in need through Mission:Dignity.
- We are the most ethnically diverse denomination in America, which gives us greater strength and a stronger witness to the world.
- We have a network of state conventions and local associations to partner together for more effective ministry and mission work.
- We have the best resource for Bible study and discipleship materials in the world through Lifeway Christian Resources.
- We still have the best missionary supporting system on the planet, the Cooperative Program!
After sharing this list, I told the pastors that it made me realize again that it really is good to be a Southern Baptist, in spite of all the turmoil!