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For McLaurin, Southern Baptist cooperation is ‘much more than the dollars’

NASHVILLE (BP) – Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin doesn’t believe any pastor, ministry leader or church member should have to go it alone.

McLaurin, appearing on “Baptist Press This Week” with Brandon Porter, the SBC EC associate vice president for convention news, discussed ways churches can work together and ways local, state and national entities can partner with churches. He has helped support these partnerships in his longtime tenure at the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board (TBMB) and now in his position at the EC.

McLaurin filled several roles at the TBMB, including leadership specialist, regional team leader, Black church development leader and ultimately, special assistant to Executive Director Randy Davis. In each of these, McLaurin’s goal was to serve churches and foster cooperation among them. He outlined three ways he believes state conventions and the SBC EC can help churches – by encouraging, energizing and empowering them.

“Discouragement is ministry enemy No. 1. If the enemy can get pastors and churches discouraged, then he’s got ‘em right where he wants them to be,” McLaurin said. “But when churches partner together, there is a huge sense of encouragement.”

During his tenure at the TBMB, McLaurin said, it was common for him and others to travel around the state to sit “around the table” with leaders, hearing their hearts for ministry.

“We wanted to come alongside them and encourage them and be their biggest cheerleaders as they’re trying to make much of Jesus in their harvest field,” he said.

McLaurin used Southern Baptist Disaster Relief as an example of churches working together. Even though state Baptist conventions give leadership in disaster relief, “it really is churches partnering together, putting on their yellow shirts and representing the Lord Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Cooperation is so much more than just the dollars that pass through our state convention and are moved on to the national,” he said.

He added that the goal is to “eliminate duplication.” The state conventions provide Sunday school training, small group trainings, worship trainings and many other resources and “value-added ministries,” while the national SBC entities have ministry assignments given to them by Southern Baptists.

“One of the things that I’m seeing at a greater level now than ever before is that our national entities are intentionally collaborating with our state conventions,” McLaurin said.

The two discussed the importance of Southern Baptists gathering in person to empower kingdom work, including the state Baptist convention meetings happening around the U.S. this fall.

“If you’ve never been to a state convention meeting, I want to personally invite you to come … make it a priority,” McLaurin said.

The meetings are a great time to build relationships, be encouraged and to learn, he said. It’s also a time to help conduct the business of the convention by introducing motions, addressing issues, electing officers and approving a budget.

“You get an opportunity to be on the front lines of helping … make sure that ministry is advanced right there in your state,” McLaurin said.

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