By Dr. Juan Sanchez, senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, TX
Ethnic diversity has been all the rage in our culture for some time now. But while our culture celebrates diversity, it has a difficult time achieving it. This is because simply celebrating diversity is impotent to unite us, since it does nothing to address the very issues that divide us. Ever since sin came into the world through Adam, humanity has been at war: men versus women (Gen. 3), brother versus brother (Gen. 4), and ethnic group versus ethnic group (Gen. 10).
Continue reading “Is the SBC Diversity-Friendly?”
By Scott Slayton, Lead Pastor of Chelsea Village Baptist Church, Chelsea, AL
“Ninety percent of churches are plateaued or declining.” How many times have pastors heard this at a conference, read it in an article, or seen it in their Twitter feed? The reality of plateaued and declining churches means that the vast majority of pastors in the United States labor in a revitalizing situation. Even pastors who lead church plants find their churches in need of revitalization after a couple of years.
Continue reading “Three Obstacles to Church Revitalization”
By Walter R. Strickland II, Special Advisor to the President for Diversity & Instructor of Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
I am encouraged by the increased desire to cultivate God-glorifying diversity in the Southern Baptist Convention. As the desire for racial understanding grows in our ranks, we will be driven to have loving conversations that have proven to be volatile in broader culture. It is common knowledge that discussing religion, politics, or race are three ways to successfully end a pleasant dinner with friends or family. But if we’re serious about racial diversity, we’re going to have to grapple with the intersection of these three realities.
Continue reading “Race and the Political Divide in the Church”
By Tommy Green, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention
Is there a future for our Baptist state conventions? I firmly believe so—provided we focus on our connection with the local church. Jesus didn’t promise to build state conventions. He promised to build his Church. Therefore, the value of a state convention will not be determined by the size of its staff, its building, its budget, or its programming. Value will be determined by one metric alone—investment in the local church. When we bring value to the church, we bring glory to God.
Continue reading “Bringing Value, Not Guilt, to Local Churches: The Role of the State Conventions”
By Milton A. Hollifield, Jr., Executive Director-Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
In today’s church culture, it is not unusual to hear someone ask about the value of state conventions. For many, they may seem like an unnecessary bureaucracy. But I am convinced that state conventions have great importance—if they are embracing the opportunities for advancing God’s Kingdom by assisting, equipping, and challenging their member churches to fulfill the Great Commission.
Continue reading “How State Conventions Should Relate to Churches”
By Jarrett Stephens, Teaching Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Continue reading “Vision Funds Mission: The Great Commission and the Cooperative Program”
By Rick Wheeler, Lead Missional Strategist for the Jacksonville Baptist Association in Jacksonville, FL
Five years ago this month, I became the Lead Missional Strategist for the Jacksonville Baptist Association (JBA). When I started, I brought no five-year plan in my pocket. Instead, I stepped into a journey with our association’s pastors and church leaders, praying together and seeking God’s direction on what a local SBC network should look like in the 21st century. And during this time, I’ve been blessed to see something unprecedented in my [cough, cough] years of ministry: God is consistently bringing churches together within our association to form new lanes of missional collaboration.
Continue reading “The Need for a Local “We””
By Trillia Newbell, Director of Community Outreach for the ERLC and member of the SBC Women’s Ministry Advisory Council
Recently, I had the joy of meeting with various women’s ministry leaders throughout the SBC. In the course of those interactions, I was struck with the fact that we were all so very different. There were varying ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and doctrinal convictions, but we had one thing in common, the gospel. Because of that, it was as if we had known each other forever. We easily entered into fellowship with one another and shared joys, burdens, and suggestions freely.
Continue reading “Four Ways the Gospel Unites Us in Our Differences”
By Kevin L. Smith, President of the Kentucky Baptist Convention
As a pastor, I stand with the 3,500 Baptists in my local church. However, as president of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, I stand with 750,000 Baptists in my state convention. We all stand together, united in the mission of Christ. The task before us is great. The spiritual darkness we are encountering in our culture is real. No individual congregation—regardless of size, location, or leadership capacity—can accomplish this task alone. State conventions exist to enhance and expand a congregation’s ability to participate in this disciple-making task. We stand shoulder to shoulder with one desire: to see the Great Commission pursued to the ends of the earth!
Continue reading “State Conventions and Evangelism: Cooperation, Capacity, and Contextualization”