So others may live

We are having an earlier than usual time for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Annual Meeting. When we go out west we have a late October time mainly because we don’t want to get caught in the first snow of the fall. When we are in the Gulf area we want to have the meeting as late in November as possible because we want to avoid the threat of a hurricane. Calendaring around weather is not a bad strategy. Any strategy is better than no strategy. Planning under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is essential for the future of ministry.

November 14 the SBTC in partnership with the North American Mission Board will be hosting a church revitalization conference at the North Richland Hills Baptist Church. The purpose of the conference is to get churches to evaluate the effectiveness of their current ministry strategies. While remaining biblically faithful we must stretch ourselves to reach people for Jesus. I don’t have to recount the dismal statistics about Southern Baptist churches in decline. A committee has been established to study the downward trend in baptisms among SBC churches. The obvious solution is to tell people about Jesus and his power to save. When pastors and churches are intentionally evangelistic baptisms will follow. It is the law of sowing and reaping.

New churches baptize more people than older churches. The SBTC and SBC emphasize the need to start new churches. The resources are available to start twice the current number of funded church plants. Texas needs qualified church planters. Spanish language planters are being trained in several locations across our state. I’m optimistic we are about to see a church planting movement among Hispanics. While the number of Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic background people continue to grow in Texas they remain a small part of the overall population. Your gracious gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Reach Texas Offering make it possible for the SBTC to have people group specialists to assist in penetrating lostness in these communities. With shifting population trends traditional and contemporary style Anglo church starts are needed in the suburbs and inner cities where gentrification has taken place. Pray about being a part of the strategy of reaching Texas with a church start that has your church’s DNA.

The 2014 Empower Evangelism Conference will be February 23-26 at Sagemont in Houston. Be ready for a number of exciting changes. Training events will be added to the usual powerful preaching lineup. Praise and worship music is to have a greater part of the program. The location itself gives us an opportunity to hold the gathering in the beautiful new sanctuary of Sagemont as well as be in the Houston area. New approaches without abandoning the biblical plan of telling the old, old story are necessary to reach the next generation. 

Strategies come and go. The Word of God never changes. Our vision must be his vision for us. Placing ourselves before him to find his plan for our lives and the church is vital not just for our survival but to put us in a position to give glory to God. As 2013 comes to a close and we look toward another year should the Lord Jesus not come before, let me encourage you to find God’s direction in how you can be strategic in reaching people for the glory of God.

This year’s SBTC Annual Meeting theme says it all, “So others may live”. Psalm 102:18, “This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.” Let’s live for the glory of God so others may have eternal life!

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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