Your Voice: ‘Will we be on mission together?’

(Photo by Sam Evans/The Baptist Paper)

Your Voice: ‘Will we be on mission together?’

Yellow ballots went up across the convention center in New Orleans on June 14 during the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting’s convention sermon — but it wasn’t to vote on a controversial issue, call someone out of order or about Baptist politics.

While delivering the convention sermon, Todd Unzicker asked the crowd to raise their ballots if a Southern Baptist had invested in them and impacted their decision to follow Christ — and the crowd responded.

“This is the picture I want to remember us by,” said Unzicker, executive director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. “Do you see what we have in common today? There are 16,000 people in this room representing people who are from independent, local autonomous churches that are on mission together. You send missionaries, plant churches and train up the next generation.”

On a personal note, Unzicker knows this because Southern Baptists helped change his life. As a “product of grace,” he focused on how Southern Baptists are at their best when they are on mission together.

Unzicker pointed to how Southern Baptists — those like former University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt — reached out to him when he was a student there.

During that vulnerable season of life, Unzicker began attending Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens.

He still remembers Sept. 25, 2004, when he hit a particularly low moment in his life. That morning, with a loaded gun, Unzicker considered ending his life.

‘Lord, Jesus, save me’

But he caught sight of a Bible that he noted had been “provided by Baptists.” He remembered the Lord showing him grace that morning.

“Right in that moment, with a gun across my lap, I just looked up and prayed the only sinner’s prayer I knew, ‘Lord Jesus, save me,’” he said. “Save me, and I’ll do anything you want me to do and go anywhere you want me to go.”

It was through that low point, Southern Baptists soon began investing in him and taught him how to share his faith. “Soul-winning was not the end of the line, it was where you began,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to tell my friends about Jesus.”

Unzicker went on to become more plugged into Southern Baptist life through enrolling in seminary and various career opportunities that only strengthened his conviction that Southern Baptists are stronger when they are on mission together.

Preaching from Revelation 5, Unzicker shared how the Bible is clear about God’s endgame, and how Southern Baptists are a part of it when they focus on missions.

“This convention was founded to send missionaries, to plant churches and train up the next generations,” he added. “You have done that for Ashley and I. We have seen that firsthand, and that is why we are here.”

Unzicker urged Southern Baptists to not get distracted from the main mission.

“From this day, will we be on mission together to reach others? Or are we going to be … fighting?

“Are we going to give weight to people in this convention who tweet more than they tithe — who post more than they pray, who raise objections to reforms instead of raising protections for the vulnerable? Are we going to be a people who sue the saints or are we going to be a people who sow seeds of the gospel?

“God’s endgame is clear,” Unzicker affirmed, “and we get to join Him on it.”

By Shawn Hendricks
The Baptist Paper

ERLC leader: ‘Life is worthy’

We know this gift of life, given to each of us by God from the moment of conception, is sacred and worthy of our fervent prayers, our strongest advocacy and our sincerest acts of service,” said Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, in his report to SBC messengers on June 14.

The events of March 27 gave him new meaning to the phrase, “life is precious,” Leatherwood said. On that day, a shooter entered his children’s school in Nashville and killed six people in the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history.

Every child there was rendered vulnerable “by a person in deep emotional and psychological distress who was in desperate need of help and intervention,” he said.

“In the following weeks and months, the Lord, who has so graciously sustained our family through this nightmare, has worked on my heart and opened my eyes to the ways our culture of anger and animosity can so quickly be turned into one of annihilation,” he said.

He listed several ways a “culture of death” affects the people living in it, resulting in abortion, gender confusion, addiction and the refusal to care well for survivors of sexual abuse. There are too many more examples that highlight all the ways our lives are vulnerable, he added.

“The Lord is revealing to me all the ways He wants this Commission — and our SBC churches — to be a voice for the voiceless, to speak up for the marginalized, to truly be a servant for the widow, the orphan, and the vulnerable,” Leatherwood said.

By Meredith Flynn
The Baptist Paper

Heard at the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting

“When your assignment looks bigger than your ability, the only thing that God requires of you is faithfulness. He will cover the gap.”

Gilberto Corredera, pastor
Prestonwood en Español

“Kindness is what sets the stage for us to be able to talk to people about Jesus Christ. It softens their hearts. It’s the greatest tool of evangelism we have.”

Michael Cloer, network mission strategist
Cape Fear Network of Baptist Churches
North Carolina

“God keeps promises, and joy comes in obedience.”

Dr. Rebekah Naylor
Longtime IMB missionary surgeon and health care missions advocate

“Leaders get the best from others not by building fires under people but by building fires within them.”

Josh Ellis, executive director
Union Baptist Association

“Every pastor faces a choice in ministry. We can choose a ministry clothed in pride or clothed in humility. We can choose to chase platform and prominence or we can choose to follow our Shepherd.”

Andrew Hebert, pastor
Mobberly Baptist Church
Longview, Texas

“When people abide in Christ, others’ lives are transformed.”

Sandy Wisdom-Martin
Executive director
National Woman’s Missionary Union

“It is possible to be faithful and firm and answer with kindness and respect.

“Be sweet like Jesus. Be kind like Jesus.”

Jamie Dew, president
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

“We get to live in a moment right now where the least reached, the hardest to reach people in the world, are within arm’s reach of our local churches.”

Keelan Cook, George Liele director, Center for Great Commission Studies
Southeastern Seminary

“Generations come and generations go, but our mission has not changed.”

Willie McLaurin, interim president and CEO
SBC Executive Committee


Enjoying our time in New Orleans at the SBC Annual Meeting! What a great time to be a Southern Baptist. Join us as we continue to pray for the lostness in our world; that God would raise up more leaders, and that more people would hear the gospel and be saved.




One of my concerns in this conversation [about women pastors] is that we are alienating firmly complementarian women — faithful sisters who are not trying to be pastors, but are feeling less inclined to serve because we have turned them into a battleground.


Thank you for answering, “What does finishing well mean to you?” at #SBC23. At the end of the day, we want to see every servant of Christ finish well, and what we do at GuideStone can play a small part in that.




I’m proud to work and serve the church at @Lifeway. We work hard to provide content that is trustworthy. Grateful for the leadership of @BenMandrell.


Thank you, #SBC23. … Today, we sang to the God of the universe in different languages. The Lord came for all people. Jesus came for people from every nation, every tribe, every people, every language. Thank you, SBC, we are on a mission to reach all people. As a minority saint, this meant a lot to me! To be able to sing in my native tongue is something I cannot describe. We are on the right track.



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