NASHVILLE (BP) – When you want to know what is really happening in and through Southern Baptists, you need to look at what God is doing in and through our churches. This is the only place to get the true look, the accurate description and the real story of what God is doing.
We are a Convention of churches. We are not a Convention of national entities, state conventions or associations. These Baptist bodies serve our churches. No one governs our churches.
Churches are assigned the task of the Great Commission. National entities, state conventions and regional associations serve these churches in ways that may help them excel in this task in a way that inspires the churches to elevate their work in order to fulfill Jesus’ mandate to us in Acts 1:8. This way, from the smallest church in a rural setting to a larger church in suburban America, each can fulfill Jesus’ mandate regionally, statewide, nationally and internationally.
The church is where the action really is.
One gains understanding about who we are and what we are about through being in our churches, talking and praying with our pastors, and experiencing the diverse and unique persons who make up our churches. Just as one person is not like another, no church is like another church.
Our churches have a common mission around which we cooperate, but the variance of each church’s personality, the unique structure of each and the systems they have developed through the years are real. This is why we choose to keep our cooperation built upon our most common doctrines and always focused on the Great Commission and nothing less.
People often ask, “Well, what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention?” I understand the question and why they may be asking it. Some ask this out of kindness and respect. Others ask because they have a genuine interest in our work. Then, others ask due to what they are reading or hearing through various conversations.
The real way to find out what is happening in the Southern Baptist Convention is to go into the local churches that share our common mission. This is where the action is.
The way we do things as Baptists is different from the way other denominations operate. People imagine we are something we are not and we can do things we cannot do.
We are composed of thousands and thousands of autonomous local churches. Churches choose the ones who serve as their pastor. Churches choose how they are going to cooperate with the SBC. Churches baptize new Christ-followers. Churches extend the call to surrender to Christian ministry or the call to go to the mission fields of the world. Churches ordain God-called ministers. Churches plant churches. Churches send missionaries. The action is in and through the ministries of the churches.
Our Baptist bodies such as the national entities, state conventions and regional associations exist for the churches. The church is where the action is.
There is nothing like the church.
This past Sunday night in Houston, Jeana and I were interviewed about marriage and ministry before a church staff, along with their spouses. As the pastor and his wife interviewed us, Jeana and I were reminded once again: There is nothing like the church.
There is nothing like the pastor and church relationship. Pastors are privileged each week to open the Bible and teach people the Word of God that not only equips them to do the work of the ministry, but also inspires them to be more committed to making disciples of all the nations. The pastor walks with the people through the best of times and, yes, even the worst of times. There is nothing like the church.
When God’s people come together on Sunday as His church and worship together, it is so very special. There is nothing like it. As God’s people go into the world each week, there is nothing like the pastor’s final words to cheer them on as they enter their mission field regardless of their vocation or generation.
The SBC is about serving autonomous local churches in their ministries of the Great Commission regionally, statewide, nationally and internationally.
There is nothing like the church.
Now is the time to lead.