AUSTIN, Texas (BP) — At Hyde Park Baptist Church, we are “rolling out the red carpet” for the 22nd annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This year our convention will look different, due to the challenges presented by COVID-19. We will observe the protocols of physical distancing and hand sanitizing, and we will encourage masks – but the convention will still be an excellent opportunity for our Southern Baptists of Texas churches to worship together, fellowship and accomplish our business.
As the host church, we are committed to making all of the messengers as welcome as possible. We are working, planning and praying toward a great convention.
This year I’ve chosen the theme, “Together for the Unfinished Task.” I believe God is working powerfully in spite of the numerous changes in our daily lives brought about by the coronavirus. In fact, despite of our challenges, these may be the greatest days in many years for us to more effectively and passionately evangelize our communities.
After all, the church of Jesus was born in the hostile environment of the Roman Empire. Back then communication meant three months to deliver a letter and three more months to get a response. Travel was only as fast as a ship could sail, a horse could run or a man could walk. The early church had no political clout, no buildings and no money. Their best leaders were frequently in and out of jail. Yet, in spite of the obvious shortages, roadblocks and troubles, within one generation they took the Gospel to parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and much of Europe.
In our culture we face challenges too, all complicated by COVID-19; but for 2,000 years, the Gospel has repeatedly displayed an ability to flourish in the midst of challenge, opposition and crisis. Remember, our churches have struggled during the age of pandemic; but our lost neighbors are struggling too. They need answers, direction and hope. Now is no time to shrink back. Instead, now is the time to work together to take the Gospel to our neighbors, family members and friends. Everybody you know needs Jesus.
This year our convention will conduct its business, but we will also encourage one another to press forward in the “unfinished task.” Our speakers, our breakouts, our praying and our worship will all be focused on reaching people for Christ! There will be variety along with consistency from previous years. We will consider a lot of aspects of reaching lost people, but the theme will be clear. As the 19th century evangelical missionary Amy Carmichael once observed, “We have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one brief moment before twilight to win them.” I agree with her.
The time is now. The hour is late. The cause is great.