In a year marked with chaos and uncertainty, the 2020 annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas was encouraging and challenging. This week I spent several days in Austin, TX, for the Southern Baptist of Texas annual meeting. I was not sure this event would even take place. By God’s grace, it did, and it was worthwhile. I have come away greatly encouraged and proud of my state convention, and I want to give you three reasons why.
First, this year’s meeting (like most of them) was rooted in the Great Commission. Jesus calls His disciples to “Go” in Matthew 28:18-20, and this year we were reminded by Matt Carter what that looks like from a local church to global involvement with Unreached People Groups (UPG). In a personal account of what God did through his church in Austin, I was gripped by the need not only to continue to emphasize global missions but to increase my influence in the streets around my church in Sherman, TX. God is at work through SBTC churches, and I am proud to be part of that work,
Second, this year’s meeting had a strong emphasis on prayer and revival. By revival, I do not mean the Charles Finney emotional definition of revival, but real God-breathed revival. While I had to leave early to tend to an emergency back home, the convention dedicated the last night to prayer. Additionally, we heard from fellow SBTC pastor Nathan Lino share about a movement of God in his Houston area church; over 60 saved in the last several weeks alone!
I was deeply burdened, as a pastor, to pray for my church. To pray for an awakening to be brought. Paul writes to the Ephesian church, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you (Eph. 5:14).” In the next verse, Paul challenges this church, because they are awake, to carefully examine their walk. In hearty agreement with the Apostle, I came away from the meeting with a sense of urgency because the days are evil. I am praying God will cause a great stirring in my people and that we would see an awakening in my community. That my church, Fairview Baptist in Sherman, TX, would shine the light that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 5.
Third, and a direct development from my second take away, this year’s meeting spoke strongly against culture’s tides by not endorsing Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. There is a fundamental problem in America, and the enemy is using race as a Trojan Horse. The problem is not racism or racial prejudice, but these evils manifest a more significant issue; sin. If the church of Christ is to be a light, it can only do so by proclaiming the undiluted gospel message that Jesus alone saves from sin. In a lively debate from the convention floor, I watched brothers graciously wrestle with these matters, and ultimately the convention voted against the use of CRT/I.
As I look back at these takeaways, I cannot help but notice two prevailing issues: Sin has real consequences, and the only hope is the gospel. I am encouraged for the future. I know the race is long, but I also know what awaits at the end. Brothers and sisters run the race with excellence! Stay grounded in the hope of the gospel. Reach the nations by changing your community. Give all the glory to God!
Soli Deo Gloria.