Diverse churches, common confession

Although it is still a hot Texas summer, your convention staff is preparing for the annual meeting of the messengers of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Oct. 25-26 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. The first session is Monday night and there are three sessions on Tuesday. The program is almost complete.

So who will be there? No, I am not talking about the featured guests, pre-convention speakers or talented musicians. Who makes up the messenger body of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention?

Some of the largest churches in the SBC are affiliated with the SBTC. With fear of leaving out someone, I’ll mention FBC Dallas, Prestonwood, FBC Houston, Second Baptist, Houston, Sagemont, Houston, San Jacinto in Amarillo, Castle Hills in San Antonio, Great Hills in Austin, FBC Euless, Fielder Road in Arlington and Fellowship Church, Grapevine. Many other near “mega” churches are a part of the SBTC. These churches will have messengers who will bring excitement to the annual meeting.

Suburban churches and county seat churches will send messengers. Some are in growing areas, others in declining areas. They all bring a desire for fellowship and encouragement.

Significantly, the SBC is comprised of small membership churches. Churches averaging fewer than 150 in attendance are in the vast majority. Small membership churches provide strength to one another through the convention. Without this segment there could be no SBTC. I thank God for the faithful pastor and congregation in the country and small towns who are witnesses for Jesus. They will bring commitment, boldness and humility to the annual meeting.

African-American churches have affiliated with the SBTC in unprecedented numbers. African-American pastors have expressed a sense of belonging and full partnership in the cooperative work of the churches. A great movement of God is taking place among the black churches of the SBTC. They will bring diversity and enthusiasm to the annual meeting.

Hispanic, Korean and other ethnic churches constitute over 10 percent of the affiliated congregations. God has brought the world to the United States in general and Texas in particular. The SBTC has the joy of many languages in its fellowship. The ethnic churches’ messengers bring a worldview to the annual meeting.

House churches, Cowboy churches, Saddleback-style churches and other affinity-type congregations are a part of the SBTC. Contextualized missions produce a variety of expressions of the body of Christ. These churches are reaching people where they are with the gospel. These messengers will bring a positive broadening of methods to the annual meeting.

Who makes up the messenger body of the SBTC? It is not some monolithic, lock-step group of “fundamentalists.” It is group of people who come from churches that affirm the Bible as inerrant and infallible. They have chosen the SBTC as a provider for mission strategy, ministry assistance and facilitating organizations. They believe that the best giving method is the Cooperative Program, because it pools the resources of all the churches to do the most good and reach the most people. The messengers look very different from one another, but they have one heart, one vision and one mission.

Plan to be with us Oct. 25-26 at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

Your servant in Christ,

Jim Richards

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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