This year, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana (SCBI) celebrates its 60th anniversary as a convention. Southern Baptists have been built on the principle that we can do more together than we can do by ourselves. That has been true from the beginning of the SCBI.

In this issue and the next issue of the Indiana Baptist Magazine, we will be telling you part of the story that makes up our history, and it reveals the legacy of others who have given faithful service to the Lord through our state convention. This issue has a brief word from two of our previous state convention Executive Directors, Dr. Steve Davis and Dr. Cecil Seagle.

These two past leaders share things that took place during the convention while they were serving and leading our work here. The words they share are a reflection of what hundreds of people did together for the sake of the kingdom here in Indiana. This is what makes Southern Baptists unique and synergistic.

The unique aspect of who we are as a convention is that we are not a hierarchical organization, which implies that the local church answers to the organizational structure. We are an inverted hierarchy, which means that our structure answers to the local church. When we refer to the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, it sometimes sounds like we are referring to a structure that has an office in Martinsville that is in charge of something. Not true! We are the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, which means all of us. SCBI is you and your church. We are 447 independent Baptist churches who choose to cooperate with each other for missions, evangelism, training, planting, encouragement, and support of each other. “To Exalt Jesus, Encourage Pastors and Equip Churches.”

The powerful part of that last sentence is that “we choose to cooperate with each other.” We can do more together than we could ever do alone; but we must choose that. Cooperation must be as important to us as our autonomy.

In our 2017 annual meeting and in our last issue of the Indiana Baptist Magazine, I shared “9 Markers for 2025.” These are intended to be things that we can all agree with, that we can do together and that will help any church or association to be better at cooperation with each other. Just as a reminder and to keep these 9 Markers before us, they are:

  1. Revitalization Marker – by 2025 we can together help 224 of our churches move toward being revitalized.
  2. Planting Marker – plant 20 churches each year which would be 160 new church plants over the next 8 years.
  3. Churches Helping Churches Marker – our goal is to enlist our healthiest congregations who will commit to being a mentor church for other churches in their association.
  4. Leadership Development Marker – with this goal we want to continue to follow our strategic plan to develop leaders in our convention. This plan has four layers. Associational and statewide emphasis.
  5. Mission Partnership Marker – Our goal is to see that “the sun never set on the work of SCBI mission work.”
  6. Highland Lakes Camp Marker – Our goal is to see God bring salvation to students and leaders, to expand our facilities, to see HLBC used more and more for equipping opportunities.
  7. Cooperative Program Marker – Our goal is to continue to increase giving to the SBC by steadily increasing the percentage that we give to C.P.
  8. Evangelism Marker – Our goal is to see churches take the ESP 2020 Challenge to develop an evangelism strategy, to see at least one person baptized in every church every year. Hopefully, one person every month and ultimately see a person come to know Jesus as their savior every week in all of our churches.
  9. Cooperation Marker – Our goal is to see our churches “choose” to find ways to help each other. Find one thing that your church can do to help another church this year. “Churches Helping Churches.”

My prayer is that we will all choose to pray for each other. Pray for our churches. Pray for our pastors and church planters. Pray for the Holy Spirit to be present in us and in our body the church each Sunday. And pray a prayer of thanks for those on whose shoulders we stand.

35 “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35 (HCSB)

Be sure to put the 2018 SCBI Annual Meeting on your calendar now. It’s OUR 60th Anniversary!

October 8-9, Highland Lakes Baptist Camp.

In HIS Love,

Dr. Steve McNeil