The news across our nation is ominous. Changes in attitudes and changes in laws have brought our communities to a point of moral crisis. Even in the Southern Baptist Convention, many of our measures of health are lagging or moving the wrong direction. Our cooperative ministry is being challenged from within and without.
Instead of withdrawing to a myopic existence or drawing our circles of fellowship tighter, we must reach out with others. Everyone needs encouragement. We can do much more standing together. The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has a broad tent of styles, preferences and methodologies. The SBTC has a defined parameter doctrinally in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000). Amos 3:3 asks the question how can two walk together unless they agree. We can be together in these challenging times because we share a common conviction about biblical truth.
Churches will find inspiration and information Nov. 9-10 at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. SBTC President Jimmy Pritchard has led a “praying across Texas” emphasis this year. He, Ted Elmore and I have joined with pastors, staff and laypersons crying out for spiritual awakening in all 18 ministry zones of the SBTC. At the convention we will join our hearts in asking God for a fresh breath from heaven.
A new format for the annual meeting will allow focused worship times, while most business will be concentrated in one session. During our time together, we will celebrate what God is doing in Texas and beyond as we hear testimonies of people being saved, lives being touched and churches-honoring Jesus.
A special highlight during one session will be a panel discussion on one of the most pressing topics facing local church ministry. Stay tuned for the topic and participants in a future announcement.
I’m also excited about a significant historical event that will take place Tuesday night of the annual meeting—the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas will join the SBTC for an evening of worship. The BMAT and Convention Baptists parted ways about 100 years ago. The BMAT and the SBTC remain separate ministries, yet for the first time in almost a century messengers of the churches will jointly worship. Two reasons make this event possible. One is basic doctrinal agreement. We are both Baptist in every true sense of the word. Second, we recognize we are partners in the gospel not competitors. We are working together without compromising truth.
The joint worship service fits well with our theme for the annual meeting: “Walking in Unity” (Ephesians 4:1-3). It is more than a catch phrase. Being united during these difficult days is vital, and our unity is found in a confessional fellowship. What we believe cannot be negotiated away.
Let’s pray for God to use us in our state, nation and world. Join me at Champion Forest this November. I need you. We need one another. The world needs the gospel!