In last month’s Indiana Baptist I shared with you an overarching view of the work that a team of SCBI leaders have been working on over the past year. Today I would like to take one piece of that work and dig a little deeper with you. Let’s talk about our SCBI Mission.
I know that it is important that you hear me say, because I believe it, that our mission is based in and on God’s Word. It is based on those critical pieces of scripture that point to the mission that Jesus has given to us. It is the foundation of why we exist as the church. It is very well spelled out in our faith document as Southern Baptists in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
- Evangelism and Missions
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17.
This is the assumption part of our mission. These things, these passages bring us together in unity to accomplish His mission.
The team of SCBI leaders have been challenged over this year to look at our convention to see how well we are doing at accomplishing this mission. It is not the mission of an office on State Road 39 south of Monrovia Indiana. It is a mission of our 449 churches across Indiana. It is our mission.
Through our evaluation, our consideration of the biblical mission (described above) and through prayer and introspection, we bring to our 449 churches a rallying statement that we pray can bring synergy to how we accomplish this mission. Let me explain our thinking about this statement.
“The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana exists to partner together with churches to discover and fulfill their next step.”
The Target – The 449 independent churches that are affiliated by choice with each other to make up the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana and part of the Southern Baptist Convention.
3 Goals – Partner together, discover and fulfill.
- Partner together – two very powerful words. Partners do things together. Paul gives us a taste of that in Philemon 1:17 (NASB) in reference to Onesimus, “17 If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.” I pray this might be our spirit in Indiana. That we would seek out ways to “partner together.” To trust each other sometimes because we know someone else who knows you. As I observe and listen, I know that every one of our churches has a need (or needs if we are honest). What could we do if we worked together cooperatively to help each other and thus help the whole body. We need each other and God intended for us to work with each other, just as the body works together (1 Cor 12). We MUST be partners together to have a greater impact on His work and be HIS partner in this ministry.
- Discover – many are critical of the “old structure” we have called associations and state conventions. While technology has been very good in so many ways, I believe it has taken us away from the biblical principles of relationships and cooperation. The old structure is not sacred, but I have to guess, that if we tore it down today, we would replace it with something that looks and behaves a lot like the structure we have, except it would have new names. The association is a great tool and place to develop relationships where we can help each other. Where we can pour into each other and ultimately help each other “Discover” what our true needs are as a church. Most pastors can identify their top 3 or maybe even 10 things that they wish they had the people, money or resources to implement or fix. We need to lean on the skills and talents of each of us to help each other discover these needs.
- Invite someone into the process with you (a pastor, associational leader, state convention leader)
- Ask honest questions of ourselves and each other.
- Meet with and talk to our people and see what they see.
- Identify the top 1 or 2 concerns or opportunities that your church has.
- Create an action plan to fix the issue(s).
- Fulfill – This is probably the hardest part. I have observed many times when a church and pastor will come up with a great idea, they create action plans to “fulfill” the dream, but someplace along the path, they get distracted, lose focus, conflict arises or they can’t figure out how to complete the task. Isn’t it our mission to help each other fulfill what God has given us to do? Shouldn’t we be working with each other to collaborate, coach and encourage each other to fulfill our mission? I believe it is. This is our mission as the churches of SCBI, to help each other fulfill the mission of Jesus and His individual contextual mission of each body of Christ called the local church.
End Goal – The individual churches “next step”
- While each of our 449 partner churches has the same biblical mission, we do not all have the same calling or vision to reach our community in the same way. Some churches use worship and home Bible studies, some use worship and Sunday School. Some are in cities, some in suburbs and some in the country. We have churches of different ethnicities, different cultures, different social-economical levels. But we are all ONE church in our overall mission. The end goal is to take all of our differences and cultural contexts and see what each church believes God is leading them to do to accomplish HIS overall Biblical mission. That is the “Next Step.” What is that one thing that each church needs to do “NEXT.” Then let’s help each other “Discover” what that is so that the church can “Fulfill” their next step, and then their next step, and then their next step and on and on.
What would happen if we all committed ourselves to a mission like this to help us accomplish our Biblical mission? If all of our 449 churches decided to help each other and “Partner to help churches discover and fulfill their next step.”
I can see churches revitalized. I can see churches baptizing new believers. I can see our churches being disciple-making stations. I can see our churches coming together for all sorts of things beyond mission trips and disaster relief (both of which I can see increasing in new leaders and participants). I can see stronger churches helping struggling churches. The list goes on and on.
We can do incredible things with the Lord’s help if we will choose to do them together. Won’t you join me and the SCBI Future Team who have worked hard this year to come together to discover our SCBI mission? One where we all work and serve together as partners?
Until Next Time,