This year’s annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention is in the books. After a whirlwind 3 days, Missouri Baptists have spread back out across the state. It doesn’t require much involvement to know these meetings have been marked, quite a bit at times, with acrimony and disunity over the past few years. Thankfully, this year was different. Very different, in fact. As a matter of fact, I am more encouraged today about Missouri Baptists than I have ever been. I’d love to share a few reasons why.
1. A renewed vision of a Kingdom advancing future
Over the past few weeks a new purpose statement and three new core values emerged as the new identity of the MBC. The new purpose statements says, “Great Commission Christians, in Great Commission Churches transforming Communities with the Gospel”. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this stated purpose. It is forward thinking, Kingdom advancing, challenging, holistic, Gospel-centered, and more. I could go on for a while. For all these reasons I am extremely encouraged by this new statement, and am committed to encouraging others to embrace it as well. The three new core values are equally exciting. Becoming Discples, Developing Leaders and Missional Living are three core values that mirror the kind of commitment we see in the purpose statement. Each of these represent a bold, biblical future for the MBC. It is the kind of Gospel-centered, Kingdom building type of thinking that is absolutely vital for the MBC to have a bright future.
As an aside, I’m very excited about the upcoming “CORE Conference” that the MBC is putting together featuring incredible speakers who will each dissect a portion of these core values. Check out the conference.
2. Unity of the believers
This convention had little in the way of contentious business items. What is important, however, is when potentially contentious issues did arise, they were generally handled in a manner which honored Christ and maintained the unity of the believers gathered in Springfield. Although I came down on the losing side of the lawsuit decision (news which should surprise no one) I was pleased to see us deal with that decision, as well as the decision to rename Hannibal LaGrange, as well as the various elections, in a Christ-like manner. No name calling, no insulting behavior and what appeared to be a genuine commitment to advance the Gospel.
3. MBC President, Dr. John Marshall
Dr. John Marshall was elected President of the MBC. Those who know me will know that I believe Dr. Marshall to be a giant in the faith. Missouri Baptists could do no better than select this incredible man of God to lead our body. This commitment was obvious as no one attempted to run against his nomination. In my opinion the future of the MBC can only be bright with men like Dr. John Marshall leading us.
4. The Pastor’s Conference
I got the privilege of being a part of the leadership of the Pastor’s Conference this year. Featuring the teaching of Dr. Danny Akin and Dr. Ed Stetzer we were treated to one of the most powerful pastor’s conference I’ve ever been too. As President, Doug Shivers was primarily responsible for the event, and he deserves our gratitude for the tremendous job he did.
Dr. Akin was as powerful as always, which is not unusual for him. Along with Dr. Marshall, Dr. Akin stands as a giant in SBC life in my opinion. Ed was as challenging as ever, and his second message on Monday may have been the best message I have ever heard him deliver. If you have not ordered copies of the conference, I would really encourage you to do so asap!
5. New leadership rising up
Alongside the faithful leadership of men like Dr. John Marshall and Wes Hammond, who was elected as First Vice-President, God seems to be raising up a new generation of men who are excited about the MBC and want to be involved. Unfortunately this hasn’t always been the case. I met many, many younger pastors who are interested in and excited about the MBC and who look forward to being involved in the future.
One of these men who is rising up is Joshua Hedger who was selected as the Convention Preacher for 2011. This is a tremendous decision that not only reflects a commitment to young leadership, but also embraces church planting. I cannot wait to hear his message next year in Tan-Tar-A.
6. One21 Latenight
Our One21 Latenight event was a tremendous success. I can’t tell you how encouraging it was to look across this room and realize that over 10% of the messengers from the annual meeting chose to attend, even though it didn’t start until 9:30pm. Even more exciting was the fact that the vast majority of them were younger Missouri Baptists. I am extremely excited to see what God does through this generation over the coming years.
7. The MBC Report
This may seem unbelievable to some, but surprisingly I was incredibly encouraged by the MBC report. Not only was it extremely engaging and well done – professionalism abounded – it captured my attention for the entire time, which is no small feat when you are as hyperactive as I am. It swiftly highlighted the various ministries being accomplished, and pointed towards an exciting future moving forward.
Big time kudos goes out to Dr. Tolliver, Vince Blubaugh, Jay Hughes, and the other folks who put it together. I sincerely did not believe an MBC report could be that interesting, but was pleasantly surprised.
All things considered I am extremely encouraged about the future of the MBC and cannot wait to see what she looks like over the coming years. This past week was a great step in the right direction. Let’s keep moving forward to advance the Kingdom for the sake of God’s glory!