TAYLORS, S.C. (BP)–As stated in a previous article (Aug. 13), I have learned a great deal over the past year as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I do not claim to have all knowledge, or to know the true feelings of all Southern Baptists. However, I have traveled a great deal across the nation in churches, associations, state convention meetings, colleges and seminaries. I have talked to a huge number of people.
In addition to the things which I mentioned in a previous column, I am discovering yet other things. There are an amazing number of people of every age who are concerned about our convention. I have discovered that there are many young pastors who are deeply interested in the work of our convention. While many of our annual meetings manifest a clearly older group of people, I find that there are still a large number of young pastors and lay people who truly are interested in the future of our convention. It may be manifesting itself in differing ways, yet they have a deep heart of concern. This gives me encouragement for the future.
I have encouraged and continue to encourage young leaders, both pastors and lay people, to be involved. Do not give up on the Cooperative Program! Do not give up on our missions offerings which support such a great work. Please continue to tell people that we can do more together than we can do separately.
I’ve also learned that there are some angry people out there. I receive communications regularly from people accusing Southern Baptists of all kinds of terrible things. Some of those people are clearly outside the Kingdom of God. However, I receive many letters from people who claim the name of Christ. Personally, I have been accused of being negative on occasion. To such an accusation, I plead guilty. There are times I have been negative. However, I have attempted to manifest a peaceful spirit wherever I have gone. Although I may disagree with people, I will not let points of disagreement break relationships with precious brothers and sisters in Christ. Please pray for me that I will be a bridge builder and an encourager of God’s people.
I’ve also learned that there are people who feel the need to control our convention. Early on, I stated that I have learned the Southern Baptist Convention does not belong to any group. It certainly does not belong to me. It belongs to our Lord. I ask people to recognize the need to influence our convention in a positive, godly way.
Please know that there are people meeting even now trying to develop strategies to effect the direction of our convention in the future. Am I disturbed by this? The answer to that is an absolute no. I caution all people to seek to influence the future of our convention in a way that honors the Lord and at the same time hears the deep concerns of God’s people.
Yes, I have learned a great deal over these past months.
Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.