By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
A pastor recently asked me to give him one reason why he should stay connected to the Southern Baptist Convention. Without hesitation, I told him there are 3,600 reasons found in each one of our International Mission Board missionaries serving globally. Add to their number their 2,400 children and that’s a formidable missionary force. Together we – Southern Baptists – sent them out with the promise of prayer and financial support.
We are going through some great challenges in our Southern Baptist Convention that are heartbreaking. For me, it has been personal.
It is reasonable to wonder if the Southern Baptist Convention will survive as a vibrant network of churches. We can if we embrace the wisdom and practice the principles found in the inerrant Word of God that we work so hard to proclaim from week-to-week.
It begins with a focus on God. I recently mentioned to a group of pastors that Nehemiah is the greatest single leadership book ever written.
It opens with Nehemiah receiving bad news about God’s people. They had become a reproach to God, the walls around Jerusalem were still a pile of rubble and the Jewish people were an embarrassment in the public square.
He carefully pondered what looked like a most impossible task. Then at the right time, he cast a God-sized vision, telling the people, “Come and let us rebuild the wall so that we are no longer a disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17). The people responded to the call by engaging the work and rebuilding the wall. It was done by God’s grace, turning obstacles into opportunities and brokenness into blessings. They triumphed over threats and relearned to worship God in the process.
I believe the application is evident. If the SBC has burned to the ground as some say and our house is destroyed as we’ve known it, then in humility and by prayer and fasting we seek God’s grace, let’s lay our hands to the plough and rebuild.
May we once again learn to focus on Jesus and recover the joy of our salvation. Let’s then stop “killing our wounded.” Let’s replace anger and arrogance with peace and humility toward one another. Let’s respectfully engage in important and meaningful dialogue. Let’s rebuild trust.
Let’s crucify our carnality, not each other.
This journey toward “wall building” needs to happen more quickly, and it must begin next week in Anaheim when we convene for the annual Southern Baptist Convention.
We need to address a real concern and make the necessary changes to ensure our churches are safe places where everyone who enters can focus on worshiping our Savior and growing as His disciples.
Our house needs to be in order so we can fight the good gospel fight together against the evil one who seeks to “kill, steal and destroy.”
For more than three decades I signed my weekly pastor’s column with, “It is a joy to be your pastor.” Once an uncaught typo resulted in a “b” replacing the “y.” That week my column went out to church members saying, “It is a job to be your pastor.”
What’s happened to people who have suffered sexual abuse and what’s currently happening in the Southern Baptist Convention breaks my heart. Some days the entire business sure feels like a job. But there will be joy if you and I work together to solve problems and rebuild this Great Commission network known as the Southern Baptist Convention.
I am all in, how about you?
It really is a joy to be with you on this journey. B&R