Words cannot express my gratitude to God for you. To be able to serve the churches of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for the past twenty years has truly been a grace gift from the Lord!
Often I get asked what the vision is for the next five, 10 or 20 years for the SBTC. One constant will be our core values. We will remain biblically based, Kingdom focused and missionally driven. Adjusting to the rapidly moving trends, the SBTC has sought to keep a broad yet defined umbrella of fellowship in the BF&M 2000. Otherwise almost everything else is on the table before the Lord.
Technology has changed at warp speed over the last 20 years. There will continue to be the need to adjust to new ways of communication. Once brand loyalty was a mainstay. Currently we live in an entrepreneurial atmosphere. Churches can find a myriad of resources available no longer depending on a denominational vendor. Online training, refreshed web presence and attractive imaging are things not important 20 years ago. Today, the SBTC leads the way.
Relationships have increased in value. Pastors gravitate toward niche groups rather than finding their collective identity with a convention. Even with a small full-time ministry staff, the SBTC intentionally seeks to build relationships to customize service to churches and pastors. As someone has said, “People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Accessibility coupled with a Philippians 2 mindset of servanthood will characterize the SBTC.
Cultural trends drive much debate on social media. The SBTC Texas Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee works diligently to impact public policy on social and moral issues. The SBTC is committed to human dignity. Racial injustice is addressed in small gatherings, resolutions and intentional involvement of diverse ethnic groups. Abortion is not only opposed, but alternatives such as adoption are made available through Texas Baptist Home for Children, an SBTC cooperating ministry. Marriage between one man and one woman is not a debatable matter, but the role of women in the church has become a serious discussion topic recently. Topics will continue to surface that require a serious response, and the SBTC will seek to help churches navigate through turbulent cultural waters.
Financial viability is a concern for all institutions. Churches decide how they want to invest their dollars. Fewer dollars are being entrusted to organizations with greater allocations being made to the more direct “hands on” approach. The synergy of churches pooling their resources for a cause is irrefutable. Direct relationships are possible with organizational personnel. Positive impact of investments is evident in the results of being a part of a statewide, national or international effort. Southern Baptists call it the Cooperative Program. What the future holds for a unified budget will determine how effective our work together will be. It is time to re-image the Cooperative Program in whatever areas necessary.
The year 2018 has been a wonderful season of ministry for the SBTC. Thank you for your participation. Technically the convention is a legal entity made up only two days out of the year. Realistically, the convention is a fellowship of churches doing ministry together. Your SBTC staff stands ready to assist churches as they carry out the Great Commission. Should Jesus not return in the next 20 years, my prayer is that he will find a group of churches known as the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention continuing to be faithful!