by Mark Edlund
From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. Ephesians 4:16
As I write this article it has been a little over a month since I had the privilege of attending the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore. I was struck again by what an amazing organization the SBC is – truly one of the most remarkable evangelical organizations in the world.
The annual SBC convention is a wonderful time to network. To meet pastors and lay ministers, not only from Colorado but also from around the nation. For me it’s a time I can get together with the other 41 state executive directors for fellowship and the exchange of best practices and ideas – always fun and educational. It’s a time to visit a vast room of booths and displays from a broad spectrum of ministries and services. It’s kind of one stop shopping. And it’s a great time to sit and have a quiet cup of coffee or a meal with friends only seen once a year. And of course it’s a time of great worship and inspiration, a time to sing praises alongside thousands of others and to listen to the teaching of great men like outgoing SBC President Dr. Fred Luter.
But more important to me, the national meeting is a time of information. I always come away proud to be a Southern Baptist. I love to listen to reports and testimonies from all the organizations that exist and impact the Kingdom because we have chosen to do ministry cooperatively.
Our International Mission Board recounted a church planting movement in Cuba. National ministers told how God is drawing Cubans to Christ and new churches are started every week. IMB President Dr. Tom Elliff reported that around the world last year more than 6000 churches were planted and our missionaries each led an average of 49 new believers to Christ.
Our North American Mission Board focused their presentation on a church plant that started in a garage in Montreal and grew in one year to an average weekly attendance of over 700.
Reports from our six seminaries were all exciting. Southern Baptists have six thriving seminaries producing our next generation of ministers, and all of these students have half their tuition paid. Of course most exciting for me was Dr. Jeff Iorg’s report on Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He announced the sale of the troubled property in Mill Valley in which improvements were not allowed. However, this sale will provide for a whole new modern campus in Southern California along with more than tripling the school’s endowment. The Southwestern Seminary Report provided a great picture of the open mike effect. At the end of each report the floor is opened to any messenger that has a question. Dr. Paige Patterson was asked about enrolling a Muslim as a student. He was able to explain well the background behind the decision.
Dr. Russell Moore of our Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission presented two moving awards. One was presented to the Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, for bravely standing against the encroachment of the Affordable Care Act on our religious liberties. And the second was presented to the wife of Saeed Abedini who is an American pastor imprisoned in Iran, being beaten and held in solitary confinement because he will not relinquish his faith in Christ.
I could go on and on. The report from GuideStone highlighted Mission: Dignity which is providing support to retired ministers and especially ministers’ widows who no longer can support themselves. LifeWay reported an amazing new on-line ministry resource, Ministry Grid. Dr. Frank Page’s report from the Executive Committee highlighted a new evangelism strategy named the Great Commission Advance.
Lastly, I want to share with you one more thing that happened in Baltimore. The SBC Executive Committee has one of their meetings before the SBC Annual Meeting begins. The Executive Committee is the group of 83 elected representatives that oversee the national SBC. It is much like our Executive Board on a much, much larger scale. Colorado’s representative to the Committee is Dr. Mike Routt, Senior Pastor of Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. At this EC meeting in Baltimore, they elected next year’s Chairman. Dr. Routt was elected! This is a huge honor. I’m certain this is the first Coloradan to ever serve in this prestigious role. Dr. Routt, you’ve done Colorado proud and the SBC is stronger for your service.
All of this Kingdom work is taking place because Southern Baptists have chosen to minister cooperatively. God has certainly affirmed us greatly. I’m proud to be Southern Baptist.Leave a reply →