NASHVILLE (BP) – It gives me such joy to see thousands of messengers and churches prioritizing this year’s SBC Annual Meeting on June 15-16, 2021. We are always at our best when we have pastors and laypersons involved in our Convention ministries and annual gatherings.
We are a convention of churches. While we have existing structures to assist our churches, it is all about the churches. Jesus has anointed His Church to advance the Gospel across the world. One day when Jesus returns, He will return to unite with His Church. We are all about the church.
Our challenges are many
It is undeniable our SBC family is facing many challenges. Some are real and concerning. Missing last year’s annual meeting has hurt us immensely. I knew it would be difficult when the decision to cancel was made over a year ago, due to the global pandemic. The negative effect is greater than I anticipated.
Our work is built upon a relationship with God and others. People need each other, and we have not been able to be together. When we gather next week with around 20,000 messengers and guests to our convention, we will see some of you for the first time in two years. Hugs and even tears may come in reuniting with friends.
While we will take the time to work through our challenges and arise stronger through them, our gathering should be overflowing with much joy and jubilant celebration.
Our future is before us
When we review these past few years in Baptist life, we have been rocked with enormous challenges. I encourage you to keep perspective.
Decisions are not based upon the most recent drama on social media. In fact, many Baptists are completely disengaged from social media because they do not find it healthy for their spiritual lives or daily mindset. Please rest assured that decisions are made with due diligence and in order.
This diligence is why, even in the midst of a global pandemic, the churches of our SBC still sent 422 missionaries through the International Mission Board and planted 588 Gospel churches through the North American Mission Board. This diligence is why the churches of the SBC still equipped 24,000 students through our six seminaries. This diligence is why the churches of the SBC still gave $683 million through our Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. The Cooperative Program is our priority giving and fuels our Great Commission work regionally, statewide, nationally and across the world.
This is what Southern Baptists do. This is who we are.
This Is why
When we gather next week to conduct important business together, we do so because we want our processes and procedures to assist the Great Commission work of our churches in how we choose to cooperate missionally. Furthermore, we also want to be inspired with the preaching of the Word of God, worshiping together, sending missionaries across America and the entire world and coming together around a unified Great Commission vision called Vision 2025.
For some who may be younger or somewhat new to our family, I want you to know it really is not all about drama when we meet. It is about the mission. We exist because of the mission.
We walk forward together in our common theological beliefs to do our mandated mission assigned to us by our Lord: Presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and making disciples of all the nations.
This mission assignment is why we meet. This mission assignment is why we gather. This mission assignment is why we cooperate together.
You see, people need Jesus and people need Jesus now.
That is why reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state and every nation is of the utmost importance to us.
This is who we are. This is what we do. This is the Baptist way.
Now is the time to lead.