Recently, I was asked to speak at a gathering of pastors in an association in our state. As most denominational leaders know, these meetings can sometimes turn into a discussion of all the things that are wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention in light of the turmoil of recent days.
When I expressed this anticipation to the association mission strategist, he suggested that I talk about what is good about being Southern Baptist right now.
What I discovered as I made the following list was that I may have needed it more than the pastors did. I started out with a top 10 list. Then there was a dozen and then 15. I stopped at 18, because I knew the time would be limited. The sum total of the list was more powerful than the specifics of it. You can fill in your own details from your own context. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it was to me!
Here are 18 good things about being Southern Baptist right now:
- We are reaching the nations together through the International Mission Board to address the world’s greatest problem: lostness!
- We are planting new churches together in our state and across North America through the North American Mission Board.
- We are preparing people for all kinds of ministry through our seminaries around the country and with the Arizona campus of Gateway Seminary.
- We are not doing nothing about sexual abuse. We have recognized the problem and are taking action to address it.
- We are helping people in crisis through Disaster Relief in places that have experienced devastating events like hurricanes, tornadoes, fire and floods.
- We are responding to human needs around the world through Send Relief in refugee camps, clean water wells and famine projects.
- We are staying true to biblical truth as expressed in our shared confession The Baptist Faith and Message (2000).
- We are helping churches share the gospel through evangelism training and equipping in partnership with the North American Mission Board.
- We are helping feed the poor in our state through hunger relief funds provided by the World Hunger Offering.
- We are reaching college students with the gospel through Christian Challenge ministry on college campuses.
- We are helping children and families in need through our state’s Baptist children’s services resource centers and New Life Counseling.
- We are working to revitalize and replant churches with our local associations.
- We are responding to the abortion and foster care crisis in our state through New Life Pregnancy Center and Arms of Love Foster Care with Arizona Baptist Children’s Services.
- We are taking care of retired pastors and their widows in need through Mission:Dignity with Guidestone Financial Resources.
- We are the most ethnically diverse denomination in America, which gives us greater strength and a stronger witness to the world.
- We have a network of local associations across our state to partner together for more effective ministry and mission work.
- We have the best resource for Bible study and discipleship materials in the world through Lifeway Christian Resources.
- We still have the best missionary supporting system on the planet, the Cooperative Program!
After sharing this list, I told the pastors that it made me realize again that it really is good to be a Southern Baptist, in spite of all of the challenges.