The Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio is just around the corner, a month away. The weather in Texas is already heating up, and by the time the convention rolls around, the June days will be scorching hot. My hopes and prayers for the convention, however, is that it will keep its cool.
Through two full degree programs, a B.A. in a Southern Baptist related college supported by a state convention, and an M.A. from Southwestern Seminary, I was always led to believe that the SBC, a “rope of sand” as it has been described, was held together by a willing spirit of cooperation between churches based much more on the vision of what could be accomplished together in missions and ministry than on doctrinal conformity. Early on in my church experience, I could observe differences in styles, practices and even interpretations of scripture that made my home church and my college church very different, in worship, in discipleship, in fellowship and in ministry. The fact that two congregations as different as they were could cooperate together, and generally be considered as equal partners in both a state and national body in order to do missions and discipleship was always quite remarkable to me.
My first hope is that the Southern Baptist convention will find the unity of the Spirit with regard to its cooperative missions ministries. Rather than a winner-take-all, majority rules approach, I hope the convention body realizes that people who may hold a doctrinal view on non-essentials that is different from the “majority” view are still Southern Baptists and if they are supporting the work of the denomination financially through the Cooperative Program, they should not be excluded from leadership or missions service. I’m speaking specifically of the differences of opinion on private prayer language, or the active operation of all of the gifts of the spirit in the church today. It has been demonstated that people who hold different views on this subject can still respect each other and cooperate with each other. That’s the path I’d like to see the SBC take.
I hope, and pray, that the spirit of unity which has been evidenced in the committee appointments made by Dr. Frank Page will be contagious in the convention. There are some wounds and sore spots in convention relationships that have been allowed to continue without healing for far too long. I pray for Dr. Page, and for those he has appointed to leadership, to be led by the Spirit, and that they will set aside all of the personal interests and agendas that get in the way of the work of missions ministry to which we have been called.
I pray that I will be faithful as a messenger to the convention, and that I will not do anything to interfere with the movement of the Holy Spirit.
For the Baptist General Convention of Texas, I pray that no human agendas or personal kingdom building will interfere with the selection of God’s man to lead the convention as executive director, that politics will be set aside, and that a spirit of unity will fill those charged with the responsibility of the search.
I believe that the Holy Spirit can work in the life of Baptist conventions of all kinds, shapes and sizes, if we will submit to His leadership in faith, and abandon our own selfish purposes.