EULESS—When the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention was founded 25 years ago, Texas had a population of 19 million people. A quarter-century later, it’s estimated that’s how many lost people there are—19 million—among the state’s 30 million residents.
SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick likens it to a mountain of lostness—one of Mount Everest-sized proportions—but one that can be scaled as convention churches strategically work together.
On Monday, during the opening night of the SBTC Annual Meeting at Cross City Church, Lorick cast a new vision that aims to reverse the growth rate of lostness in Texas and the world. That vision, developed over the past year through a prayerful collaboration between SBTC leaders across the state, calls for a united front among the convention’s 2,700-plus churches.
“This is a daunting reality—one that ought to move our hearts to action,” Lorick said of the growing number of lost people in Texas. “What we’ve seen time and time again over the past 25 years as a convention [is this]: what seems like an insurmountable mountain to the world becomes a God-sized opportunity to reach every person and place God sends us.
“So how do we climb this mountain and reverse the rate of lostness in our state and the world? Just as we have for the past 25 years … we must move forward together.”
Lorick described the new vision as a “refocus” for the SBTC, one anchored upon its longstanding core values of being biblically based, missionally driven, and kingdom focused. The refocus provides a framework to drive the SBTC’s mission over the next 25 years: to mobilize churches to multiply disciple-making movements in Texas and around the world.
These disciple-making movements can be identified and measured by five markers: prayer-energized, evangelism-prioritized, disciple-making normalized, sending-maximized, and partnerships-synergized. Lorick noted all five markers are found throughout the New Testament.
“Knowing that God multiplies these markers, we want to mobilize churches toward them,” he said.
Mobilization of the markers will take place on three strategic pathways that resource churches with tools and training, network leaders with relationships and partnerships, and advance mission through giving and sending opportunities. As examples, Lorick noted continued growth among SBTC networks including the Black Church Network, Young Pastors Network, and Bivocational Pastors Network. He also lauded Regenesis, a revitalization process SBTC leaders project will have been completed by 500 pastors and leaders from 72 churches by May 2024.
Lorick said implementation of the convention’s new vision “won’t happen overnight,” noting it will begin to be integrated into the SBTC’s ministries and marketing objectives over the next year. The vision will be “fully optimized” in three years, he said, leading the SBTC to resource 1,000 churches, revitalize 350 churches, connect 1,000 leaders to 75 networks, and connect 1,200 churches to support 120 church plants. In 2023, Send Network SBTC, the convention’s church planting partnership with the North American Mission Board, expects to start 50 churches—which would be the most in a single year for the SBTC since 2005.
“No hill is too great for climbers like us,” Lorick said, “ … Let us move forward together and take our first steps on our path up that seemingly unscalable mountain as a family of churches. This challenge is too massive to go alone, but also one we cannot afford to walk away from.”