FIRST-PERSON: An Indy celebration

“There’s a lot to celebrate,” said our new Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president, Clint Pressley, during his press conference following his election. Clint was underscoring the good news from our recent SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Clear Mission Focus

Those in attendance witnessed the sending or commissioning of 83 new International Mission Board (IMB) missionaries. Their testimonies were inspiring and encouraging. Our Lord continues to call out people and send them on mission to places where we cannot, for security reasons, identify either the missionary or the locale by name. In fact, during the IMB Sending Celebration, only silhouettes of many new missionary faces were seen in order to protect these faithful followers of Christ.

The North American Mission Board (NAMB) brought updates on ongoing church planting efforts across the U.S. and Canada. These church planters represent those who are willing to answer God’s call to do something new in the name of Christ.

Stellar Leadership

Jeff Iorg, newly elected president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee (EC), set the tone for the future by transparently updating messengers on the current situation facing the SBC EC. His stellar leadership has come at the right time for this strategic committee. He is the right man for this moment to lead Southern Baptists in this way.

Bart Barber presided over this year’s annual meeting with a calm and steady hand. Even in the few moments of tension and confusion, you could sense that Bart was in control. His humility and dignity were evident during all sessions.

As Bart has now handed over the gavel to Clint to preside over next year’s meeting and to provide leadership as SBC president until then, I pledge to pray for both of them and am grateful for their love for Southern Baptists and the Lord.

Our Missional Heartbeat

Yes, secular news outlets and some others will always offer sensational headlines related to issues about which they do not have a firm grasp of details. Do not let headlines in the secular news determine your opinion of this Convention meeting or of Southern Baptists in general.

Southern Baptists seek to be faithful to the Bible, even concerning complicated issues. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 represents a consensus of our Biblical beliefs. This confessional statement has served us well through the years, and I think it will do so in the future as well.

Our hearts beat with a “clear mission focus.” We are by far the largest missions-sending faith group in the world. That mission is fueled by our giving through the Cooperative Program and the approved special offerings given by Southern Baptists. Next year marks the centennial celebration of the Cooperative Program. That is a major cause for us to celebrate.

Difference Makers

Do we have moments of conflict and confusion? Absolutely! The past several years have illustrated that for certain. We are not a perfect people, but we are only “clay in the Potter’s hand.” Indeed, I believe we have the hand of God upon us.

Let’s remember to celebrate what God is doing among us. Let’s also delight in the fact that God has used us even when we were not at our best. As a Southern Baptist, I am so glad we can join together to be difference makers for Christ in today’s world.

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