The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention

       This weekend, my wife and I will venture down to Corpus Christi to gather with thousands of other ministers, denominational figures, and church members from across the state of Texas. It is an event to which we look forward all year long, ever year. It gives us that “boost” we need to continue with the strenuous work of ministry. We get to hear powerful sermons from the Word of God, enjoy heartfelt worship with brothers and sisters in Christ from across the state, and collaborate with friends and ministry partners who are encouraging, uplifting, and sincere. We’ll hear reports from the Southern Baptist schools in our state, vote on issues that direct the future of our convention and our denomination, and this year… we’ll take part in the SBC North American Mission Board’s commissioning service.

       Very often, I hear church members who are confused over the importance of belonging to such an organization. Perhaps we (I) don’t do a good enough (or frequent enough) job explaining the dynamics of the organization, and why we belong to a denominational group like this. In this blog, allow me to clarify some things of which maybe you are unaware, or maybe you just haven’t thought about in a while…

I. Global Impact.
       Acts 1:8 challenges the local church to be Jesus’ witnesses to our immediate community, our region, and to the ends of the earth. This is a tall order. Hopefully, as a local church, we are passionate about reaching our community for Christ. In all honesty, it takes most of our income to realize this goal. We pour money, and rightfully so, into our immediate context – people right around the corner from us are desperate for someone to meet them at their need and share the life-changing truth of Jesus with them. It is both time-consuming and resource-consuming.
       But what of the other areas in Texas that do not have a strong local church to reach out to their community? Who will bear witness to those communities? And what of the un-evangelized regions of the world like Myanmar, North and Central Africa, Peru, Asia, Russia, and so forth? Who will take the light of the gospel to those spiritually darkened places?
       Through our cooperation with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), our little church in Rosenberg, TX is able to join with other little churches in Texas to fund missional efforts in the least-reached parts of our state. The moneys we give to the SBTC are combined with the moneys of other convention churches to optimize evangelistic impact where witnesses for Christ are few and underfunded.
       On top of that, our church’s giving to the SBTC helps fund world-wide efforts for gospel saturation…

II. The Cooperative Program.
       The Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is an agreement between State Baptist Conventions (like the SBTC) and the national Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). When local churches send funds to the state conventions, those state conventions send a percentage of the funds to the SBC. The SBC divides these funds between the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB). That means that through the Cooperative Program (me giving to the SBC through my local church’s gifts to the SBTC), I am able to support over 5100 missionaries in North America, and over 5600 missionaries in every other part of the world.
       By itself, our church would be hard pressed to fully support even one missionary. But through our cooperation with the SBTC and the SBC, we support over 10,700 missionaries worldwide. A Side Note: NAMB and IMB commission new missionaries into the field. This year, at the 2010 SBTC, NAMB will be commissioning new missionaries into the field… and anyone is invited to come see the ceremony. Two years ago, at the SBTC’s annual meeting in Houston, TX, the IMB held its commissioning service. It was an amazingly inspiring event – and I’m expecting NAMB’s commissioning service to be equally as inspiring.
       PERCENTAGE of funds passed should be inquired of. I’m very pleased to tell you that 54% of everything given to the SBTC from local churches goes straight to the SBC (national convention to support NAMB and IMB). That is more (way more) than any other state convention. Our convention leaders are pioneers in cooperative funding. They have worked tirelessly to keep local, national, and international mission work a priority.

III. Standing for Truth.
       In an American culture (and arguably, even in a world culture) where truth is rapidly being viewed as relative, unstable, and subjective, the SBTC takes an unwavering stance on the inerrancy, efficacy, and infallibility of the Bible. You may not be aware of this, but there is a movement – even within the Southern Baptist Convention – away from the Bible as the center and source of truth. Entire state conventions question the authenticity of the Bible as a whole, and the accuracy of Genesis chapters 1-11. Instead of standing up for truth, and being the salt of the earth, these individuals and organizations are profaning what it means to be Christian. They are undermining God’s revealed word to us, and replacing His truth with what is convenient for them and acceptable in the culture.
       But not the SBTC. Our convention stands firm in the midst of great opposition. Dr. Jim Richards, the Executive Director of the SBTC, and the other elected and employed leaders of the convention uphold the traditional biblical values of Christianity, and the supreme authority of the Word of God.

       These are just a few points I thought I would share with you concerning the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. It is my privilege to be a part of this extraordinary organization. This weekend will be a much needed time of ministry rejuvenation, network connection, and spiritual renewal for my wife and I. May God receive the glory and the honor that He is due as we work to share His truth with a truth-deprived world.

Grace and Peace,
Tony