News Articles

Yeats: Mo. convention to return to original mission

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP) — Missouri Baptist Convention messengers moved forward during their 181st annual meeting in the restructuring of the convention’s staff and in defending religious liberty.

A total of 1,022 messengers and 236 guests from 440 churches met Oct. 26-28 at Springfield’s University Plaza and Expo Center, where MBC Executive Director John Yeats set forth a vision of the convention’s future by renewing its original mission to “make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.”

Yeats urged Missouri Baptists to embrace a sense of urgency as they engage a culture desperately in need of the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The return to our historic mission requires us to think and act differently,” Yeats said. “Together, for this moment in Kingdom history, we can labor together to accomplish the purpose for which God has called all Missouri Baptists.”

Starting two years ago, Yeats challenged the MBC missionary staff to grapple not just with declining baptisms and other traditional metrics, but a gaping disconnect between Christ’s command to make disciples and the number of Christians engaged in missional living.

Yeats recounted that a message he delivered in 2011 delineated the functions of a state convention. By structuring the MBC around those functions, the convention gained time to adequately pray, research and strategize for the future.

“The functions still exist, and that work must be done,” Yeats said. “But we need to be laser-focused on helping Missouri Baptists fulfill a vision that is ‘Kingdom-sized.'”

A survey of Missouri Baptist church leaders, as well as other research, has revealed many positive trends, but also a drift from the historic purpose for which the convention was founded, Yeats noted.

“What’s the remedy for mission drift?” he asked. “A return to the mission for which the MBC was established: to cooperate with Missouri Baptists to make disciples, multiply churches and develop leaders.”

In the reorientation of staff, Yeats said a key component was the development of the MBC missionary staff’s vision and mission. The vision states, “Transforming lives and communities with the Gospel,” and the mission states, “To make disciples, multiply churches, and develop leaders.”

Yeats provided further details about the MBC’s reorientation:

1. A priority on developing people. “First, our mission and vision mean the MBC missionary staff is shifting from a program-driven organization to a people-development organization.”

2. A strategically driven staff. “While we continue to counsel with church leaders and respond to their needs, we are strategically driven to transform lives and communities with the Gospel. Therefore, we are not primarily a provider of religious goods and services to churches, but a strategic leader offering a clear, compelling and cooperative vision for Missouri Baptists.”

3. A Kingdom orientation. “We are strengthening our focus on the Kingdom of God. Our greatest service to Missouri Baptists and their churches is to partner with them in seeking first the Kingdom, understanding that Christ preached the Kingdom in dozens of passages.”

4. A commitment to accountability. “Finally, we are changing the scorecard we use to measure success — and we are seeking the input of Missouri Baptists to accomplish this. While it’s important to collect and analyze data on worship attendance, baptisms and giving, there are other milestones that may help us better determine the degree to which we are transforming lives and communities with the Gospel.

“The Lord has set a course for our lives,” Yeats said in closing his address. “He has gifted us and placed us in the communities where we live and work today. And one day we will stand before Jesus and give an account of how faithfully we walked the path of He purposed for us.

“Let’s determine together to walk the forward path of purposefulness He laid out for us … to seek to transform lives and communities with the Gospel … by making disciples, multiplying churches and developing leaders.”

A video of Yeats’ presentation along with other resources relating to the MBC vision and mission are available at mobaptist.org/transform.

Also during the meeting, MBC President Neil Franks, pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson, emphasized the 2015 theme, “Forward,” urging Missouri Baptists to move forward in a backward world by reaching people for the Gospel. Convention preacher Robert Shelton, pastor of First Baptist Church in Plattsburg, urged Missouri Baptists to “preach Jesus” to people in their churches and communities.

Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd called Missouri Baptists to join together in prayer that God would send spiritual awakening throughout the nation that can move the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The International Mission Board’s Nik Ripken, author of “The Insanity of God,” spoke of the hard realities that persecuted believers around the world face.

Resolutions, other business

In one of five resolutions, messengers defended religious liberty and called on Missouri legislators “to pass a Religious Liberty Protection Act … that explicitly secures the religious liberty and freedom of conscience for pastors, churches, businesses, schools, student groups, colleges and institutions.”

In other resolutions, Missouri Baptists spoke in favor of the Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel for missions and ministry; defended the lives of unborn children; and showed their support for the nation of Israel.

Messengers approved a 2016 Executive Board budget of more than $14.8 million — an increase from the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were both set at $14.5 million.

In the 2016 Cooperative Program goal, 5 percent of the $14.8 million is set aside in a shared expenses category for minister annuity protections and The Pathway newsjournal. This has been part of the allocation since 2012. From the remaining CP funds, 42.5 percent goes to Southern Baptist Convention causes; 41.5 percent to MBC missions and ministries; and 16 percent to MBC institutions, including the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Hannibal-LaGrange University and Southwest Baptist University. The budget reflects a 2 percent change from 2015 allocations, for which 40.5 percent of CP funds went to SBC causes and 59.5 percent went to the work in Missouri.

Missouri Baptists also approved the Executive Board’s recommendation that the Rheubin L. South Missouri Mission Offering goal be set at $710,000 — a $10,000 increase from the previous year — and that the MBC take a special offering on Oct. 27 to benefit the Disaster Relief Summer Missionary Program, for which $4,077.89 was received.

Additionally, messengers supported an Executive Board recommendation “to enter into a four-year partnership with our IMB and Great Commission Partners in Italy,” which begins Jan. 1, 2016.

By convention ballot, messengers re-elected three of its officers, as well as one new officer: president, Neil Franks; first vice president, Ken Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kearney; second vice president, Josh Hall, pastor of Selmore Baptist Church, Ozark; and recording secretary, Jeremy Muniz, pastor of First Baptist Church in De Soto. Doug Richey, pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church in Excelsior Springs, stepped down from office as second vice president after one term, but he emphasized his continuing support of the MBC and expressed his honor at nominating Hall to take his place.

Next year’s MBC annual meeting will be Oct. 24-26 in St. Charles. Ron Ratliff, pastor of Tenth Street Baptist Church in Trenton, will preach the convention sermon.

    About the Author

  • Missouri Pathway Staff