I am grateful that I get to have frequent conversations with pastors and that I get to hear from them the joys and struggles of ministry. I love hearing about the great things God is doing in their churches and families and attempt to encourage and provide counsel when things are discouraging.
One thing that is becoming a bit more frequent in these conversations with pastors is listening to their frustrations with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) at the national level. Over the last few years, there has been a string of news and developments related to national entities and leaders in the SBC which have torn at the fabric of trust some of our pastors and churches have with the convention. Many are concerned that the SBC is too “top heavy,” forgetting the importance of the local church. In light of this, I want to encourage each of us to enter a season of prayer for the SBC and those who serve at every level, calling on the Lord’s help and direction.
I also pray that Oklahoma Baptists churches and pastors will be encouraged with these two thoughts. First, the most important organization in the SBC is the local church. Not the state or national convention, not the entities, not the universities or seminaries. The local church. Period. The pastor of the local church is a far more important role than a president of an entity or executive director of a state convention. As a friend of mine recently noted, it’s unfortunate when people turn their attention to what national or “celebrity” leaders have to say about an issue rather than their own pastor. The SBC is a grassroots, bottom-up organization that should be all about the local church, not what happens at state/national levels. We must not forget this. It is unfortunate that the spotlight often rests on negative things at “the top” of the SBC, rather than the wonderful things God is doing in our churches.
Secondly, we have national/state conventions in order for our churches to cooperatively give and partner together for missions and the advance of the Gospel. Our churches are autonomous, but we believe we can do more and reach more with the gospel together than we can apart. The churches should be able to trust the convention to faithfully carry out this mission. Though far from perfect and learning all the time how better to serve our churches and pastors and carry out our ministries, I never want Oklahoma Baptists to be embarrassed by or have reason not to trust in their state convention.
Our team will work tirelessly to continue to keep your trust by doing our best to operate with integrity, availability, and transparency, being faithful to the Word of God, focused on the Great Commission, valuing the importance of every church of every size in every location, and be trustworthy, efficient stewards of Cooperative Program funds. The state convention was created by churches, to see the work of the kingdom done through churches, and to be a resource for churches. The world is in such desperate need of Jesus and His Gospel. May we all work and be on mission together!