GRAPEVINE?”We’re going to be gone and somebody’s going to have it,” Lifeway Christian Resources President James T. Draper told a group of young leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention March 10. “It would be easier for you to take it and make it what you want it to be in years ahead rather than re-invent it. We want to show some of the great value and opportunity in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Draper explained his concern for the future of the Southern Baptist Convention at one of the Younger Leaders Dialogue meetings held at Fellowship Church in Grapevine. Eager to see greater involvement from leaders in their 20s and 30s, Draper said, “If you were to decide how to carry out the Great Commission you would need resources, training and networking. You can’t do it by yourself,” he insisted.
It’s a message he’s taken to similar gatherings in other states where younger ministers offered feedback later posted to a website at www.lifeway.com/youngerleaders.
Near the end of the five-hour dialogue, Kerry D. Baxley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Splendora, told Draper, “We not only need to ask you to do some things for us, but we need to feed back to you those things that are positive and support those as well.” The participants at Baxley’s table compared the appeals for change coming from younger leaders within the SBC to Christians calling on Hollywood to produce movies they could support. “When they did that the Christian community forgot to show up,” he stated, stressing the need for young leaders to support the convention when leaders respond.
“It is a two-way street,” Draper responded. “You all are helping us learn and we need to keep doing that.” An additional dialogue session was held in Atlanta on March 17 and planned for St. Louis on April 25 and Northborough, Mass. on May 6. A Younger Leader Celebration convenes in Nashville on June 19 from
Representatives from the host church, three nearby Baptist associations, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and several SBC entities were among those present. Draper praised the efforts of seminaries and state Baptist conventions as they connect with younger ministers.
Recalling the SBC’s reorganization as an example of moving toward greater efficiency, SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman asked, “Would I say there’s not more room to streamline? There’s always more room, whether it’s in the local church or the Southern Baptist Convention, there’s always more room to tighten your belt,” he said, noting that trustees elected by Southern Baptist messengers have that ability.
Chapman said coming generations must ask whether the Cooperative Program will continue to work. Grateful for a dozen years of increased giving that fund Southern Baptist work around the world, he warned of a trend of churches contributing a lower proportion of receipts through CP missions.
“Twenty years ago the average church was giving 10.6 percent through CP,” he shared. “That percentage coming out of the local church has slipped to 6.99 percent. If that trend continues, obviously our missions enterprise around the world is going to be in a desperate condition.”
Boyd Pelley of The Church on Rush Creek in Arlington questioned whether the reduction in the typical portion given to the CP by local churches was negative. “A lot more is getting done in missions now than ever before because of the fact that churches are engaged in missions around the world more directly,” he insisted.
Pelley said the way churches approach missions has changed dramatically since he served as an International Mission Board missionary 20 years ago. “Probably the church’s overall giving to missions and the influence in reaching the world for Christ is greater than it’s ever been, not less.” We’re getting the best of both,” he added, referring to continued overall growth in CP dollars given and direct mission involvement. “The small groups in my church are engaging in real ministry, not sightseeing tours.”
SBTC Missions Mobilization Associate Tiffany Smith praised the IMB for addressing churches’ desires to minister overseas, referring to IMB field personnel assigned to link churches with particular regions of the world and removing many hurdles for local Baptist churches to partner with people groups.
Don Myers, pastor of First Baptist of Wills Point, appealed
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