I’ve been behind on a few projects while I’ve focused on several things at the church which has taken precedence. One of the things I wanted to have written up earlier was a recap of our #SBC23 Annual Meeting “Kick-Off” event which happened on the campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) two weeks ago today on Tuesday, August 23rd.
This “Kick Off” is only the fourth of its kind and I think the idea is a great one! I was certain it would be an encouragement for the pastors from our region and a helpful sort of “pep-rally” for our area. What I did not expect is that we drew in pastors from as far away as northern Mississippi and western Louisiana.
The goal was simple. Gather local pastors as well as associational and denominational leaders for a time of fellowship and engagement to learn about how our churches and associations might be involved in the events surrounding the coming SBC Annual Meeting. We gathered for a meal, heard from a panel of local leaders and guests, and then were given some specifics regarding upcoming plans.
Those in attendance were privileged to hear a few breaking announcements regarding items related to the coming New Orleans meeting.
We witnessed the release of the #SBC23 promotional video which you can watch HERE.
SBC President Bart Barber unveiled his theme for the annual meeting which will be “Serving the Lord, Serving Others” based on 2 Corinthians 4:5. I love it!
We heard updates on the Pastor’s Conference from our SBC Pastor’s Conference President, Daniel Dickard.
We had a special, devoted time of prayer for the event with an eye toward God granting fertile ground for lives to be changed as well as for us to be good stewards of the business we are to carry out while we meet in the Crescent City.
We also heard from Jonathan Howe and Lynn Richmond from the Executive Comittee (EC) about the needs we have for volunteers to serve during the meeting. The Volunteer Registration Website was also unveiled. You can click HERE to take a look at opportunities for involvement to serve during the annual meeting. We need lots and lots of help in a number of areas. Please join us as a volunteer if you are able to do so.
One of the most exciting things we heard was a report from Dr. Preston Nix and New Orleans Baptist Associational (NOBA) Executive Director, Jack Hunter (who stepped in for Alex Brian) regarding the new combined effort between our annual Crossover event and that of the Serve Tour which will be taking place the few days before the annual meeting. This is especially exciting to me. That we are combining our evangelistic and service ministry elements to bolster the work of our churches in the area for the Glory of God is something that reflects the heart of our churches here. I believe this will be a time that will not only honor Christ but will allow our churches an open door to engage our neighbors anew with the Gospel.
The panel discussion led by Willie McLaurin (Interim EC President) included Bart Barber (SBC President), Fred Luter (SBC Past President), Jamie Dew (NOBTS President), Jack Hunter (NOBA DOM), Daniel Dickard (SBCPC President), John Kyle (Director LBC Communications Team) and me. We fielded questions ranging from opportunities to serve during the meeting to New Orleans food and fun. We also talked about what the event means for our community.
I have a few quick take-aways from the event. First, I love the transparency presented here. That the EC has initiated this Kick-Off to engage the locals with insights on the annual meeting is commendable. For too long convention things were done in back rooms in the good-old-boy way. This openness and engagement is refreshing and instills confidence in our cooperative work. Second, the call for volunteers to serve at the SBC meeting is a great way to engage people in the event itself. The more people participate, the more “buy-in” is built up. That bodes well for continued participation in future meetings and creates the feel that the SBC is not just a spectator event but is best experienced through engagement. Third, the fellowship time of the Kick-Off itself might alone be worth the effort of the event. It was great to see so many folks from the region (even outside of our immediate area) gathered to be encouraged and encouraging one another. Many of these folks were also able, for the first time, to personally meet our Convention President and our Pastor’s Conference President. For some, it was their first time on the NOBTS campus. Overall, it was a wonderful time and I hope the EC staff continues with these “Kick-Off” events for future meetings.
A final shout-out to our friends at NOBTS. Jamie Dew, Chris Shaffer and the entire staff did an outstanding job hosting our event. The whole thing went off without a hitch. The professionalism and excitement of their team made this event even more special than we had hoped. The seminary has been rolling full-steam prepping for the SBC. We are also relying on them to provide our trained army of volunteer Pages for the meeting. One of the great things they have created is a very helpful website you can peruse so that you are best prepared for your trip to the Big Easy. There are recommendations for food, places to visit and other helpful info. The site will also be regularly curated so be sure to check back from time to time for updates. Please click HERE for everything you need to know about our city before coming to join us next summer.
Finally, I’d like to especially thank all the men and women who gave of their time to join us for the #SBC23 Kick-Off Luncheon. It was great to see so many friends from around the region. During our meal I stood and watched the smiles, hugs, and interactions between so many Kingdom-minded partners from around our area and it made me beam with a godly pride at the wonderful cooperative spirit we get to experience here in southeast Louisiana.
What a special place this is to live and serve and I’m certain we will have a great time together next June 11-14 as we all gather “Serving the Lord and Serving Others.” Laissez les bons temps rouler!