By Dr. Steve McNeil
The Lord has led me along an interesting path over the years. I was born into a Mormon family. This became my first spiritual, religious experience. In high school, the Lord saw fit to put me into experiences where this religious background was tested. Ultimately in my early 20’s that background was rejected, and I made the conscious decision to follow God’s Word (sola scriptura) and the revelation in His Word that Jesus is the only way to truth and eternal security (John 14:6, Ephesians 2:8).
Along that path, I was invited to a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma City. I continued to study, to question, to grow in my relationship with Jesus and to become more involved in His church. The Lord continued to open doors in my life to serve Him in His church, with His people. I found great peace and fulfillment in these opportunities.
Over the years of making this journey, I have watched the hand of God work in my life. I committed to being in the center of HIS will for my life. I am sure there are places where I have missed His perfect will, but He is faithful to use my missteps, to keep me serving Him in his permissive will.
That intro is for you to understand what I want to share next! I am a Southern Baptist by choice. I believe in what we as Southern Baptists believe (even with and because of our diversity). I love the system, the organization, the opportunities, the potential synergy, the possibilities of team work, all to accomplish HIS purpose and mission (Mt 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
I believe in how we work biblically. Just look at our application of scripture in our overall structure that can be seen in Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (CSB).”
As Southern Baptists, we touch the world every day through the work of our large family, committed to the mission of taking the gospel to the world. This is how I like to view this Acts 1:8 Challenge:
- Jerusalem – each local church and association
- Judea – The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana
- Samaria – The North American Mission Board
- Ends of the earth – The International Mission Board – takes the message to the world
We Southern Baptists have plans and strategies to impact each of these levels of mission. Today I want to highlight the Judea level. The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana is made up of 445 churches (number varies monthly with churches started and closed). Each year we have the opportunity to take an offering for the “Indiana State Mission Offering (ISMO).” This offering is traditionally taken up in your local churches during the month of September. Of course this is determined by each local church.
Remember that what your church gives to the ISMO, 50% of that offering comes back to your local association for use with evangelism, revitalization and leader development.
This year’s goal has been set at $75,000. This year’s theme is based on Phil 1:27 (NASB).
Philippians 1:27 (NASB)
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel”
This is my dream for SCBI. That we would choose to “strive together” for the sake of the gospel. That we Strive Together to:
- See a person come to faith in Christ every week in every church (evangelism).
- See churches helping churches that need to experience new life through revitalization (see a decrease in churches closed to less than ten each year).
- See the Lord bless us with 20 new church plants every year.
- See every one of our 445 churches giving 10% of their budget through the Cooperative Program and taking the CP 1% challenge (increase giving by 1%, for members to their church and churches through CP).
- See the sun never set on SCBI mission work around the world.
- See every church develop and deploy a plan for leadership development in their church, “everything rises and falls on leadership”.
- See Highland Lakes continue to develop our facilities and to see lives changed through evangelism, discipleship and leadership development.
- See Churches Helping Churches. I dream of us behaving under the umbrella of cooperation. Where we choose every day, every week, every month to find ways to help each other. To serve each other, to sharpen (Proverbs 27:17) each other so that we are all better together and we can truly achieve synergy, based on being empowered by HIS mission and THE Holy Spirit of God.
Let’s Choose to Strive Together this September through the Indiana State Mission Offering (ISMO). Set your church goal; email me with what you believe God is leading your church to give (firstname.lastname@example.org).
May He bless you with every spiritual blessing,
Until Next Time,