LAS VEGAS, Nevada (BP)–The Nevada Baptist Convention increased its Cooperative Program giving to 29.25 percent, marking a continued yearly increase since the convention’s inception in 1978.
The theme for the 29th annual meeting of the Nevada convention at Foothills Southern Baptist Church in Las Vegas Oct. 16-17 was “I will do something new … will you?” based on Isaiah 43:18-19.
“I truly believe that God is going to do a fantastic work in the West,” Thane Barnes, the convention’s executive director, said. “In Nevada, we need to put our efforts into making disciples. We want to see mature, reproducing disciples.
“A disciple by nature reproduces,” Barnes told the 200-plus people in attendance, including 94 messengers. “Thirty minutes on Sunday morning is not enough to disciple someone. We need to train them, trust them and turn them loose.”
Theodore Kern, the convention president and pastor of Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Battle Mountain, used an oboe reed as an illustration for the Christian life.
“God knows we have bends and twists like a lot of the oboe reeds. Like the reed, we are imperfect. God chooses to work through our strengths and our weaknesses,” Kern said.
Geoff Hammond, president of the North American Mission Board, said judgment day is coming and Nevada Baptists must make sure what they do in the meantime will stand the test of fire.
“Are we building with wood, hay and straw or gold, silver and precious stones?” Hammond asked. “Don’t work as the Lone Ranger. … Only synergistic work will remain.”
Hammond said he asks himself three questions: Who is getting the glory? Is God’s Kingdom being extended? Is it about me or we?
“We weren’t called to Christ to compete. We were called to co-work … [as] laborers together with God,” he said. “Team in the Bible is spelled B-O-D-Y. We are all equally important.”
John Mark Simmons, pastor of Highland Hills Baptist Church in Henderson, delivered the convention sermon.
“The Book of Acts is the bridge between the ministry and the mission of Jesus,” Simmons said. “Jesus commissions His followers in Acts 1:8. Nothing can stop the Gospel. Don’t let anything stop you. If you don’t let God use you, He is going to use someone else.
“God is looking for His servants. Don’t check out because it’s gotten tough. There will always be a barrier, always be a hindrance; with the Lord’s help, go around it … go over it,” Simmons said.
John Sullivan, executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention, asked messengers to find the balance in their lives between quiet time and troubled time.
“You must trust the sovereignty of God with the pieces of the puzzle of your life,” Sullivan said.
Referring to Psalm 23, Sullivan said God takes His children to the still water because, like sheep, they need to drink where it’s calm.
“Rushing water will strangle them,” he said. “They fall in, their wool gets wet, they sink and drown. I can go as long as God wants me to go with the energizing power of Christ. In the hard times in my life, I realize that the God in the shadow of death is the same God who leads me in the good times.”
Mark Brister, outgoing president of Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla., noted how Noah aligned his life with God.
“What kind of reputation are we carrying with us into a lost world? God is concerned about the children who are not walking with Him,” Brister said. “God will work through us with natural things so He can intervene supernaturally.
“God closed the door to the ark. If Noah had done it, he might have caved and waited to let more people in and never made it. God desires that all come to know Him, but a time will come when He will close the door.”
Brister said it wasn’t just Noah’s obedience that caused God to vow He would not destroy the earth with a flood again; it was because God experienced Noah’s pure worship.
Mendy Nantz, an International Mission Board worker, shared her testimony of how God protected her when three men kidnapped her at gunpoint in Kenya.
“God answered my prayers, Jesus interceded for me and the Holy Spirit comforted me,” Nantz said, pointing to Psalm 20: “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress.”
“Use the name of Jesus. It’s powerful,” she said.
Messengers recognized Harry Watson, director of missions for the Southern Nevada Baptist Association, and Eddie Miller, director of missions for the Sierra Baptist Association, both of whom have served in their positions for 15 years.
Messengers approved an overall budget of $2,745,326 for 2008, a 6 percent increase over the current year. The budget includes anticipated Cooperative Program giving of $1,230,878 from Nevada Baptist churches. The convention will allocate 29.25 percent of Cooperative Program receipts to national and international missions and ministries, an allocation increase of .25 percent.
Theodore Kern, pastor of Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Battle Mountain, was re-elected president. Kern also pastors three mission churches: Reese-Antelope Valley Chapel, Valmy Baptist Chapel and Hilltop Mission. Frank Bushey, pastor of Fellowship Community Church in Reno, was re-elected first vice president, and Chris Miller, minister of music at First Southern Baptist Church in Fallon, was elected second vice president.
One resolution was passed, expressing thanks to the estate of Helen A Lytle for a financial gift that will extend the convention’s work.
Nevada has 220 churches and missions with about 35,000 members.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 21-22 at South Reno Baptist Church in Reno.
Based on reporting by Sandy Farnham, editor of The Nevada Baptist newsjournal.