In March of this year, our church affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) and the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Last week I had the opportunity to be a messenger on behalf of Grace Life to the annual meeting of the SBTC. Here are a few of my takeaways as a participant for the very first time:
- I appreciate that the preaching of God’s Word is at the center of the annual meeting. The theme of the annual meeting was BELONG from Ephesians 4. The list of pastors preached expositionally from Ephesians 4. The first pastor preaching verses 1-6 and the next pastor preaching verses 7-11, etc. While the annual meeting requires that business take place, such as passing the annual budget, electing officers, etc; it is clear that the proclamation of God’s Word is the heart and soul of our state convention.This year the opening message came from Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist and newly elected SBTC president. The closing message came from Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
- I thank the Lord that the SBTC team clearly communicates that while we are a convention, we are first and foremost a family of churches. Monday evening we heard a report from the SBTC area representative from the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. He gave an update on how the church family and community continue to make sense of a senseless tragedy. After his report, we took time to pray for FBC and Pastor Frank Pomeroy.In addition, those pastors and wives who were affected by Hurricane Harvey were called forward for a time of prayer. These things show me that the SBTC is much more than 2,600 churches on a state convention list somewhere in Dallas, but that God is knitting together churches committed to the Word of God and caring for one another.
- I love the continual message of seeing the gospel go to every man, woman, and child in the state of Texas and the world. This emphasis continues to challenge me personally as a Christian and as a pastor seeking to lead our church to love the gospel and to love unbelieving people. May God take these stirrings and translate them to frutiful action.
- I value the emphasis on racial reconciliation and growing as a convention in racial diversity. The issue of race relations in our country continues to attract headlines and rightfully so. The United States has come a long way and yet if we listen to our minority brothers and sisters they say, and I agree, that we still have along way to go. Tuesday evening the SBTC hosted a dinner conversation on racial reconciliation between three pastors. The only way our country will see any forward progress in racial reconciliation is when the Christian churches lead the way in conversation and action.
- I treasure the growing list of pastor-friends that are committed to leading churches that value preaching, practice evangelizing, and value discipling. Is the convention perfect? No. But this is a group of churches and pastors committed to the inerrancy and sufficiency of God’s Word. These are like-minded brothers and churches that we can be thankful to the Lord to call our friends, sisters and brothers.
If you would like to see some first hand reports from the convention, you may do so at the Texan Online.