OCEAN CITY, Md. (BP) — Messengers to the 176th annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware approved a budget increasing Cooperative Program giving and passed a resolution in support of biblically-defined traditional marriage.
A total of 368 messengers and 93 visitors met with the theme of “Connect for Life Change: Making Disciples” at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City Nov. 13-15.
Messengers passed a 2012 budget of $4.275 million, a slight reduction from $4.3 million in 2011. The change includes a 2 percent-of-budget increase in CP giving to the Southern Baptist Convention in conjunction with a move to increase CP giving by 1 percent until the year 2020, reaching the goal of keeping 49 percent in the state convention and 51 percent going to national and international causes. Reaching the goal is tied to churches increasing their giving.
Ken Stalls, pastor of South End Baptist Church in Frederick, was unanimously re-elected BCM/D president.
In his convention sermon titled, “Whachamakin?” Stalls told of a boy seeing his father working and asking, “Daddy, whachamakin?” Stalls asked messengers, when it comes to disciples: “Whachamakin?” Are churches looking for another Bill Hybels, David Platt or Billy Graham?
“I think we’re expecting too little,” Stalls said. “We’re called to make those new converts like Jesus Christ.” He said God’s plan from the beginning was to “make man in our own image.”
“God sent His Son into the world to restore marred vessels like us,” Stalls said, adding that if Christians believe Philippians 4:13, they have no excuses and must reflect Christ.
Regarding disciple-making, Stalls said, “We must help them know who Jesus is, what He’s like and portray Him through our lives every day. Don’t aim low. … Aim for Jesus Christ. Settle for nothing else.”
In a session focused on making disciples in the city, church planter Jerome Gay shared about how to be incarnational missionaries. He is pastor of Vision Church, an inner city congregation in Raleigh, N.C.
Citing the purpose of Jesus’ prayer in John 17, Gay conveyed three reminders about engaging cities and cultures with the Gospel.
“We have been sent just like the Father has sent [Jesus],” Gay said, explaining that’s what it means to be a missionary. “We have been sent by God, and we’re sent with a purpose. We’re sent with the Holy Spirit. We’re sent with power to engage our cities — to see our cities changed and revolutionized with the Gospel.”
In John 17, Jesus says Christians are “in the world but not of the world,” Gay said. But Christians must engage the world and not separate themselves from it. If believers are going to make disciples in their cities, it is important that they do not equate holiness with separatism, he said.
Gay expressed concern that too many evangelicals equate being holy with being separated from sin, “as if we were not sinners saved by grace ourselves.”
Noting that cities are ugly, dirty, full of hurt and crime-ridden, Gay said incarnational missions happens when “the message of the cross is taken to the culture in community.” Being on mission is being sanctified from sin but not being severed from sinners, he said.
Many churches leave cities because of their challenges, Gay said, but Christians can’t assume people in the culture know about Jesus Christ, His cross and His resurrection. In fact, the values of pop culture are based on self-expression, success, sexual freedom and selfish pursuit, he said.
Evangelicals tend to assume that everyone shares their values and opinions, he said, but Jesus asserts that those who don’t know Him aren’t going to have the same values.
“We can’t get mad at them,” Gay said, suggesting instead to study one’s city and approach its culture in three different ways: adopt (What can we adopt in order to present the Gospel in this context?); adapt (What can we adapt that gives God glory to present to this context?); or abolish (What must we abolish or reject that offends God?).
The enemy wants Christians to replace discipleship with citizenship.
“The enemy wants us to be more interested in our patriotism than in being missional,” Gay said.
Gay said Christians are Kingdom citizens, living for the glory of God, “and as Kingdom citizens, we bring this reality of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the city, and this is a counter-intuitive message.”
Gay shared two things that get in the way of that message: liberalism (too much grace without the truth) and legalism (too much truth without the grace).
“Jesus saved us from religion, not for religion,” he said. “If we are going to engage the sinners in the city, don’t forget that you are one, too.”
He concluded, “The Gospel always compels us from a position of compassion to not forget who we are and to be blown away by who we are in Him.”
In addition to Stalls as president, Ron Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Havre de Grace, Md., was elected first vice president and Andrew Bell, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Essex, second vice president.
— “On Traditional Marriage” states that God defined marriage as between one man and one woman and that Maryland/Delaware Baptists have traditionally stood with the Southern Baptist Convention in supporting that definition, and that a growing body of research points to the benefits of traditional marriage.
The resolution also states that “intrusive redefinitions of issues like traditional marriage by the government have historically trended toward eventual threat of religious liberties and local church ability for self-determination, notwithstanding governmental assurances to the contrary.”
The Maryland legislation could consider a bill in 2012 to legalize gay “marriage.”
The resolution resolves “that we call on the state of Maryland to support the Family Law Code as it reads in November of 2011 which states, ‘Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state;'” that “we encourage spiritual activities to promote and defend the traditional view of marriage…;” that Maryland and Delaware Baptists will encourage civic activities to promote and defend the traditional view of marriage; and “that we must proclaim love and compassion toward those who would differ in their opinions of marriage, allowing us to maintain a faithful Christian witness.” The resolution passed unanimously.
— Messengers also approved a resolution of appreciation thanking Carol Moore, assistant to the executive director, for three decades of ministry.
Next year’s annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware will be Nov. 11-13 at Global Mission Church in Silver Spring, Md.
Based on reporting by Sharon Mager of BaptistLIFE (www.baptistlifeonline.org), newsjournal of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.