As my family and I pack our bags to head home to Enoree, SC after SBC 14 in Baltimore, I wanted to share several prayers that we will be praying as we head home.
1. We thank God that our Convention looked a little more this year like we understand heaven will look. From the speakers in the pastor’s conference, to those who stood on the convention platform, to those in the seats it seemed that the convention better represented all nations and ages who Christ came to redeem.
2. We thank God for the important balance evident in the call for Church Revitalization alongside of Church Planting. Established churches desperately need pastors who will bring the same missional principles from Scripture that church planters utilize to birth new churches. Having submitted the resolution and offered a motion to this effect, I was especially thankful to voice as a messenger the mood of the Convention.
3. We thank God for the tone Paige Patterson set when he came humbly recognizing the need to restore his relationship with the Convention. I understand Danny Akin’s point that Paige Patterson need not apologize for his willingness to admit a Muslim student at SWBTS in hopes that student would clearly hear the gospel. Even so, I am thankful that Dr. Patterson set a good example for us as Southern Baptists by recognizing how his actions broke a relationship with some Southern Baptists. Further his desire to apologize and reestablish that trust follows our biblical mandate to reconcile with one whom we have offended. This is the brotherly love that lets the world know we are Christ’s disciples.
4. We thank God for the largest ever Lottie Moon Christmas Offering! My Grams shared the story of Lottie Moon with us with tears in her eyes about her sacrifice that others might know Jesus as Savior and Lord. In the year of Grams’ death, in which we asked that people remember her by giving to the Lottie Moon Offering, this fact makes us especially thankful. For our family it was as if The Lord reminded us that Grams now celebrates eternal life with Lottie Moon and the nations in the presence of Christ.
5. We pray to God that our elections this year do not mark a rise of the Old SBC again. After such a monumental election two years ago, when Fred Luter became our SBC president, this year not a single officer represents any diversity as far as I know. Further, by in large they represent mega churches. This by no means comments on the godliness or commitment of the men serving. Rather it recognizes the need for us to intentionally reflect diversity. Lord, let this not be an indication of the complexion of the annual meetings to come.
6. We pray that our shrinking membership and baptism numbers reignite practical evangelistic fervor. Fomenting this decline will not solve the problem. It will take SBC members and churches taking practical missional steps to shine gospel light into the darkness around them. Our family chose to ride the light rail while we were in Baltimore because we wanted to have the opportunity to share the gospel with those around us. Thankfully we had the opportunity to do this almost every day we rode. This sort of practical missional decision will make the difference to reinvigorate our churches.
7. We pray that we will see more people from the church we serve participate as messengers to the SBC. Each year we go to the annual meetings of our association, state, and national convention we invite members of the congregation go with us as messengers. We have been fortunate to take with us at least two or three additional messengers each year. The past two years our son has joined the ranks of our messengers. In years to come we pray that we will send to every SBC meeting all ten of the messengers that our church can send. We also pray that soon our daughters will also have the privilege of attending the convention as messengers as well.