HESPERIA, Calif. (BP) – The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is a gathering I look forward to every year. As a California pastor since 1999, I have always made it a priority to attend the convention no matter the distance. Thankfully, I have been blessed to lead churches who support my going. This year is no exception. In fact, I am probably looking forward to this meeting even more for four reasons.
#1 – The convention hasn’t been in California since 1981. 41 years! Yes, we will be near Disneyland and all the other attractions that make Anaheim a destination location for the convention. Yes, we have important matters to deal with as a convention and you will get to play your part as a messenger in those matters. Yes, we will get the opportunity to see friends and renew acquaintances while we walk the exhibit hall to pick up 2022 “swag,” and yet, there is something even more important than all of that. This is a unique opportunity for all my fellow Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to see and experience what God is doing among your California Southern Baptist brothers and sisters.
#2 – Your presence will be of great encouragement to pastors and churches who are called to serve in one of the most difficult areas of ministry in North America. COVID-19, our political climate and the exodus of conservative Christians from many of our congregations has been difficult. When brothers and sisters like you stand with us as the great SBC family, you encourage us.
#3 – California Southern Baptists are rich in ethnic diversity, and you will get to witness firsthand a warm hospitality into the mission field God has called us to. We worship in more languages than we can count (I personally lost track after 50). We like to say, “Lottie Moon has come to our shores.” Our churches are as diverse as the people that make them up. All seeking to do their part in fulfilling the Great Commission. This leads me to that “something even more important.”
#4 – Finally, you should be excited to come to Anaheim because there are 35 million people in California who do not have a relationship with Jesus. Wrap your head around that number. When you come to Anaheim and serve in events like Crossover or participate in our prayer room, you will have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of west coasters who need to see Christ in action, who need a Savior.
I know many may be wrestling over whether or not to come to California. I understand. I’ve heard all the reasons. In fact, I can’t promise that you won’t be inconvenienced in one way or another, but kingdom work isn’t really supposed to be that easy, right? Acts 1:8 calls us to be witnesses for Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and “unto the uttermost part of the earth.” California may feel like that for you. For us, California is our home. Consider this your invitation. Come on down to Anaheim, in Orange County, June 14-15 and see for yourself. I can promise you sunny skies and a fresh Gospel view beyond what many of you may be used to.
So, for these reasons and a lot more, I am look forward to being in Anaheim and so should you.