Yesterday I attended a Young Pastors’ Summit at our state convention office. The church I pastor partners with the SBC of Virginia. I was excited for the event, and I left Richmond yesterday blessed and encouraged. We heard an excellent presentation from Dr. Jeff Iorg from Gateway Seminary, and had a great time of Q&A. The meal was delicious, and the fellowship was good. It was a great day.
So often in Southern Baptist life we are only vocal when things go poorly. I don’t like what this entity head did. That state convention is keeping too many CP dollars in the state. CP giving is down. Baptisms numbers are in a free fall. There are too many Calvinists in the convention! Why so many leaders with connections to Southern Seminary? The list goes on.
There are important issues we face. We must not neglect to look at reality and address whatever problems we see. But sometimes we forget to celebrate the positive things that take place as a result of our cooperative work as Southern Baptists.
I am deeply grateful for the Southern Baptist Convention and the many churches, associations, and state conventions that cooperate together for the spread of the gospel in our communities, our nation, and our world. I grew up in Southern Baptist Churches. I graduated from a Southern Baptist seminary. And I have pastored two Southern Baptist churches. Like R.G. Lee once said, “I’m Baptist born and Baptist bred, and when I die I’ll be Baptist dead.”
The SBC of Virginia
Though I grew up in Virginia and have only ever lived in Virginia, I am somewhat new to the SBCV. I had some SBCV connections before, but had not followed the work of the SBCV very closely until coming to pastor Goshen Baptist Church in Spotsylvania, VA. I have been deeply impressed. Our Executive Director Brian Autry is a great leader. The regional missionary for the north region of VA where I pastor is Darrell Webb. He has been a blessing and encouragement to me in the seven months that we’ve known one another. Our church planting strategists are top notch. The SBCV has done everything they can to bless me and to serve our church.
I don’t know what your state convention is like, but I trust that many of you could say similar things about its ministry. I’m sure its leaders have been a blessing to you in many ways.
Dr. Jeff Iorg
Until yesterday, I had never heard Dr. Jeff Iorg speak other than giving his report at the convention. I was very impressed. If you haven’t heard some of the story of God’s sovereign hand on Gateway Seminary over the last few years as they transitioned to Southern California, you need to hear it soon. It will bless and encourage you. Dr. Iorg is a great leader, and God used him to accomplish an amazing task in moving that school over 400 miles while maintaining a spirit of unity among the faculty and students of the seminary.
Dr. Iorg challenged us yesterday to consider the ways that God is using our circumstances, the challenges we face, and even our successes to conform us more and more to the image of His Son. What a good reminder that was for me. God is interested in my life. He has a plan to conform me to the image of Christ. Even when I don’t understand what is happening or why it’s happening, God does, and I can trust Him no matter what.
I’m on the east coast, and Dr. Iorg is all the way on the west coast, but I am thankful that he made the trip to Virginia to come and share with us yesterday. If I were much closer to Southern California, I think I would want to consider studying at Gateway Seminary. I will definitely be reading one of his books very soon.
So Southern Baptists, take heart! God is doing a good work in and through our convention. Do we face challenges? Absolutely! Will we have disagreements? Of course, we will! But let’s take a moment today to give thanks to God for what He has given us in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Surely there’s more I could share and give thanks for from recent months, but I want to hear from you. Is there something you would like to share about your state convention or local association? Is there a leader who has been a blessing and encouragement to you? Use the comments section below to share your story.