[SLIDESHOW=42845]ST. LOUIS (BP) — Highlighting the partnership between Southern Baptists across North America and around the world to spread the Gospel and plant churches, the Southern Baptist Convention’s two mission entities held a “Sending Celebration” at the conclusion of the SBC’s annual meeting Wednesday (June 15) in St. Louis.
International Mission Board President David Platt and North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell called Southern Baptist messengers to join in celebrating the sent — those missionaries who have gone out into the near and far places of the world to bring the hope of Jesus Christ; the sending — those churches who are equipping, encouraging and coming alongside church planters and missionaries; and the lives transformed by the Gospel because of Southern Baptists’ sending.
The celebration specifically featured the ways Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.; Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa; Candeo Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Anthem Church in Columbia, Mo., equip and send missionaries from their churches.
Celebrating “sending” churches includes the thousands of Southern Baptist churches giving through the Cooperative Program, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions, the leaders noted. And it includes the cooperative effort of Southern Baptists to spread the Gospel to those who’ve never heard it. The presentation also recognized Southern Baptist pastors and the role they play in shepherding and mobilizing local churches on mission.
“We have so much to celebrate, but there is still more to be done,” Ezell said, leading into a spoken word by lyrical artist Amena Brown.
Platt talked on stage with John Kimbell, pastor of preaching and discipleship, and Shawn Wright, pastor of leadership development at Clifton Baptist Church, noting their role as a sending church is not just about sending missionaries. It’s about making disciple makers, he noted. The pastors said they saw healthy growth and value in their church as they related to members sent out as missionaries.
“As people engage in a cause much bigger than themselves — which is what we’re made for — there is a joy in that,” Kimbell said. “And then we begin to experientially recognize the greater value of Christ and of the Gospel, and that infiltrates every part of their lives as they are living as members of our congregation.”
Ezell introduced messengers to leaders of a church (Cornerstone) that planted a church (Candeo) that planted a church (Anthem): Troy Nesbitt, founding pastor of Cornerstone Church; Jeff Dodge, lead pastor, Cornerstone Church; Paul Sabino, lead pastor, Candeo Church; and Stan Hayak, church planter, Anthem Church. Cornerstone is committed to planting 20 churches near colleges in the next five years.
The most difficult thing to do in church planting is to send your best staff, the church leaders said, noting that when churches send their best, they take people with them. But that is where fear and faith come together, they contended.
“Don’t send the guys you don’t want,” Nesbitt said. “Send the guys you don’t want to lose, because then your heart goes, and then God will replace them.”
“Nobody is more shocked than we are about what’s happening,” he said. “And we wanted to do it in the context of the local church. As God has raised up new leaders to plant churches, we’re amazed at all that He has done.”
Platt read Romans 16:1-15 and challenged the messengers to consider the cooperation displayed in the Scripture.
“Here we sit, 2000 years later, a group of 40,000 churches with millions of church members … all across the Southern Baptist Convention, every one of them important, and together, we’re all cooperating on mission,” Platt said, noting the roles of both NAMB and IMB. “So let’s do this: let’s mobilize them to pray, and to give, and to go in North America, to start right where they live to make disciples.”
The Great Commission is not a “comfortable” call for any Christian to come, be baptized and sit in one location, he said, but rather it is a clear command for every follower of Christ to go, baptize and make disciples of the nations.
“So as people are making disciples right where they live, God will, by His Spirit, sovereignly set apart some of them to make disciples in other parts of the country,” Platt said, emphasizing God will also lead people to other parts of the world.
“This is why we exist: to bring together millions of men and women who are gathered together in tens of thousands of churches under the banner of the Bible for the spread of the Gospel to the nations of the Earth,” he said. “Every member of your church has a part to play in this mission.”
For more information about how NAMB and IMB can help your church become a sending church, text “next steps” to 25827.
See On Mission Poem below shared during Send Celebration by spoken word artist by Amena Brown.
Julie McGowan is public relations leader for IMB.
On Mission Poem
By Amena Brown
We find ourselves before the one true God
Hearts laid bare and broken
We want to serve Him
We want His name to be the very foundation upon which we build our lives
To be the eyes through which we see the world
We want to walk the roads of Jesus with that same dust on our feet
We want to build bridges instead of burn them
We want to love with the kind of love that flips over tables in temples
And dares the religious to cast stones in judgment
And is willing to share a table with sinners and betrayers
This calling is bigger than a career
Extends beyond a job or formal position
This mission is eternal
Bigger than anything we could come up with ourselves
We are picking up the mission Jesus left for us
We are doing what He told us
Love your neighbor
Take up your cross
Teach them the way
Walk in the Spirit
Speak the truth but make sure you live it too”
Jesus is still calling His disciples
To put down our nets
To serve and love our neighbors
Next door and across the world
Jesus is calling all of us
Whether we need to walk across the street
Reach across the table
Move across the country
Make our home across the world
Live in community
Learn a new language
Practice talking less and listening more
Pray and discern what God has in store
This plow we put our hands to
This work we commit our lives to is not easy
There is plenty of harvest but very few hands
But we will not grow weary in well doing
We ask the God who plants and waters and harvests and reaps
To send the brave and the wise
To send the women and the men and the children
To send the leaders and the influencers
To send the elders and the young
To send artists, engineers, teachers, farmers, preachers,
Mechanics, musicians, athletes, architects
To send those who will befriend and walk alongside
To send those who will again and again offer their lives
We will not be a generation who is lulled to sleep
By apathy and selfishness and complacency
We are the people who will be moved to action
To walk humbly and love mercy and do justice
We want God to send us
To Seattle coffee shops and Shanghai start-ups
London streets and St. Louis neighborhoods
To skyscrapers and street corners in Detroit and Dubai
No matter where go
When God sends us on mission
We will answer with our whole lives
Amena Brown is a spoken word artist from Atlanta, Georgia.