I love the fall. It has always been my favorite time of the year. Life seems to slow down from traveling and people get back to normal rhythms and routines. The weather begins to change, ushering in cool mornings and evenings. The kids are back in school and the conversations around the dinner table are full of energy. Yes, there are many things I love about the fall. My favorite thing, however, is what the fall brings with it: football.
There are few things in my life that bring me joy like watching my kids play football. Honestly, I have dreamed of it from the time I held my firstborn in my arms. I love the anticipation each week brings. I love the gameday environment and the spectators gathered with passion to watch their teams play. Simply put, there is nothing quite like watching a team come together and unify under one mission and purpose: to move the ball forward and cross the goal line. Yes, the overall mission is to win the game, go the playoffs, and perhaps win the championship. That’s what is on the line every time the team takes the field. However, you really can’t win the game if you don’t move the ball forward. You really can’t move the ball forward unless everyone on the team plays his part.
We are living in interesting days. Culture seems to be shifting rapidly before our eyes. Social media has made it possible to watch the world change in real time. Every day challenges arise that threaten the world to which we are accustomed. This is true in the Southern Baptist Convention as well. A network of 50,000 churches will always have challenges. However, like football, we must stay focused on the mission before us and be resolved to do our part and move forward together.
The SBTC is a network of almost 2,700 churches. We have a rich history of moving the ball forward together. We stay focused and resolved to reach Texas and impact the world. The SBTC stays true to our values of being biblically based, kingdom focused, and missionally driven. That is who we are and who we will continue to be.
I am often asked questions like these: What are the priorities of the SBTC as we seek to serve churches? What really helps us to stay focused and unified on the mission? What drives us to reach Texas and impact the world? The answer is quite simple—our desire to move forward together. There are essentially three pillars for our network as we serve churches. The Lord put these pillars into my heart as he called me to serve the SBTC. These pillars serve as the foundation for all we do as a network of churches. These pillars keep us unified and help us to move the ball forward together. Let me share these with you.
1) Our theological agreement. We are a network of churches committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. We believe the word of God to be absolutely true with no mixture of error. We have not and will not back up from this conviction. We are also a network that affirms the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as our statement of faith. The churches of the SBTC affirm this statement of faith and agree to operate within its parameters. This allows us to be a confessional fellowship of churches, unified in theological agreement.
2) Our missiological strategies. The SBTC believes the greatest way to reach Texas and impact the world is to partner together with churches, associations, conventions and entities to see the advancement of the gospel. The way in which we do this is through the Cooperative Program. Our desire is not only to see the gospel shared across Texas, but across the globe. The Cooperative Program allows us together to send missionaries, plant churches, strengthen churches and train the next generation of students in seminaries. This is an incredible opportunity the Lord gives to all of us through our partnership.
3) Our methodological approach. The SBTC believes that the headquarters of all missions is the local church. Therefore, the local church is our priority. While we cooperate with and serve alongside other institutions, our focus is on assisting the local church in carrying out the Great Commission in their communities. We love the local church and consider it a joy to serve in every way. This has been and will continue to be our approach.
As with any football game, to advance the score, you must move the ball forward. Amid an ever-shifting culture, it is my prayer that the churches of the SBTC be resolved to unify around the mission God has given us, stand firm on these three pillars, and see the gospel advance like never before. Let’s go forward together to reach Texas and impact the world! I love you and am grateful for you!