My wife, Jenna, and I have some close friends who have continuously blessed us over the years. This couple has two teenage daughters who are incredible tennis players. They have excelled in the sport, winning a state championship last year.
One of the things I love about watching their daughters play tennis is that after every winning volley, one yells, “Come on!” quickly followed by the other shouting, “Let’s go!” It is so fun to watch—not only because they are good, but because their passion leads them to know why they are there. These two young ladies remind each other after every successful shot to stay focused and move forward on their mission.
There are things we can learn from that as a network of churches. At our annual meeting this past November, we presented a new mission focus for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention for the next 10 years. We crafted a new mission focus statement while standing firm on the values we have always had.
To put it simply, we are not changing who we are. However, we will be shifting some of how we do what we do to better serve our churches.
This new mission focus identifies five markers of what a disciple-making movement in a church looks like. The list is certainly not exhaustive, but these are five markers we desire to help churches move toward as they reach their communities:
1. Prayer Energized
We would love to see all churches incorporate a culture of prayer. These gatherings will look different and there is no one way of doing them. However, we believe if churches are intentional about praying, we could experience a move of God across our state like never before.
2. Evangelism Prioritized
God is bringing the world to our state. We must recapture a burning heart to reach lost people. We have to equip and send our people out to be intentional gospel-bearers. We want to help churches strengthen evangelism in their context.
3. Disciple-Making Normalized
Our culture is discipling people in all arenas. The church must step up its efforts in making disciples of Jesus. We want to help churches think strategically about creating discipleship avenues in and outside the church.
4. Sending Maximized
We are seeing an incredible movement of church planting in Texas. God is doing a unique work in our partnership with Send Network SBTC, and we believe it is going to grow exponentially. We want to see SBTC churches partnering to plant churches in Texas. We also have missions partnerships outside Texas that we want to mobilize SBTC churches to engage in.
5. Partnerships Maximized
There are so many great opportunities to partner with other churches in the SBTC. One of the greatest ways to partner is through the Cooperative Program. It is our prayer that all 2,749 SBTC churches will partner together with the 47,000 Southern Baptist Convention churches through the Cooperative Program.
Think about what could happen if all SBTC churches are engaged together in these five areas. As we look into 2024, I pray we, as a network, can begin running hard toward these markers. In fact, as we begin this year, close your eyes and envision the five markers in your church and hear me cheering you on by saying, “Come on! Let’s go!”
I believe we can do it because I believe we are in this together. I love you and am grateful to serve you. Let’s do this together!