OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (BP) — John Yeats, in his first address as executive director to messengers of the Missouri Baptist Convention, identified seven core functions of a state convention.
Yeats said he had come to seek good, referencing Amos 5:14 (“Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord, the God of Hosts, will be with you, as you have claimed.”).
“I want the Lord with me,” Yeats said on the opening night of the Missouri convention’s Oct. 31-Nov. 2 annual meeting at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach.
Yeats has been the Southern Baptist Convention’s recording secretary since 1997 and the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s director of communications and public policy since 2005.
For him, Yeats said seeking good means leading the Missouri convention to pursue seven core functions:
— Sound the trumpet. People must be convened for a specific purpose, which relates to the MBC’s mission, Yeats said, noting that the sound of jurisdictional leadership must be heard and in accordance with Acts 1:8 [Jesus’ call for local, regional, national and international outreach].
— Strengthen churches. Worship, evangelism, discipleship, leadership, stewardship, ministry and missions must be improved, Yeats said. “The state convention assists churches with leadership training and organizational structuring,” he said, “so that local churches become more effective in evangelizing, disciple-making and congregationalizing.”
— Support pastor/servants of the local church. Introducing a goal of “no church without a pastor, and no pastor without a friend,” Yeats said the MBC will provide leadership training, strategic planning and personal mentoring initiatives.
— Start churches. “Churches start churches,” Yeats said, describing the state convention as a facilitator. He cited Ohio for doing this well, with 200 additional churches in the last 14 years.
— Send the light to the nations. “The state convention harnesses the willingness of volunteers from multiple congregations, from every corner of our state, to make a difference for the sake of the Gospel,” Yeats said.
— Synchronize the work of the entities. Parts work together to make a whole in this manner, with “fraternal” and “partnership” being key words, Yeats said. “This factor is one of the reasons why we have this thing called the Cooperative Program,” he said. “It is our lifeblood, Missouri Baptists — how we get the job done.”
— Shine the light in the public square. The power of 1,986 cooperating MBC churches in the state capitol will be felt, Yeats said, describing the state convention as “the most effective and efficient means of addressing issues in our state relating to morals, social policy, regulatory issues, and religious liberty issues with prudence and strategic statesmanship.”
The implications of that final point caught the attention of Kerry Messer, longtime Missouri Baptist lobbyist in the state capital of Jefferson City.
“It’s exciting to hear a top-level executive telling Missouri Baptists to get involved,” Messer said. “The climate of Christianity in our culture has repressed Christian involvement in the public square to the point where our average churches are silent in the public square. This is a radical reconnect. That’s what we need.”
Yeats, prior to his service in Louisiana, was editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger and the Indiana Baptist with the state conventions in those states. He previously served 20 years as pastor of churches in Texas and Kansas.
Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway (www.mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention. The full text of John Yeats first convention address as MBC executive director can be accessed at www.johnyeats.net.