I just returned from my 13th Arkansas Baptist Convention annual meeting. This year it was held over 5 hours away from Marion in Rogers, Arkansas at the fantastic facility of Cross Church at Pinnacle Hills. It is different to go to the annual meeting of the ABSC with literally NO responsibility as president of the Executive Board or the Convention. The positive thing about this is I got to sit back and observe our convention from a semi-objective point of view.
What did I learn?
1. I am getting older!
While I am not by far the oldest among all the messengers, I have noticed over the past few years that I appear to be getting older. This is a great thing! Why? Because this means that unlike other state conventions across the SBC, we have younger pastors and staff members attending our annual meeting. This is a great sign for the future of our convention.
2. I am not cool!
I did not show up as a messenger at the state convention wearing skinny jeans, loafers, spike up and/or frosted hair! If that is what Arkansas pastors (especially music guys) look like, then I don't guess I'll ever be cool.
3. The Gospel is powerful!
Report after report I heard how God was working in amazing and miraculous ways all over the Arkansas Baptist Convention. God is using ABSC people to start new churches, create new ministries, heal hurts, meet needs, and be on mission for the Lord with the gospel!
4. Unity and Cooperation are the cornerstones of the ABSC!
We are a convention that is characterized by cooperation and unity! I am amazed at how diverse we are and how this diversity is a major strength of unity and cooperation among us as we do God's work. From giving, to serving, meeting needs, and to sharing the gospel, we are a convention that works together in partnership. What a great place to serve!
5. The Cooperative Program must be promoted and protected!
The CP giving is strong in the ABSC, but could be stronger. Our state convention employees are great stewards of the CP gifts of ABSC churches. The CP allows us as ABSC and the SBC to be on mission for the Lord throughout this world, as well as in every corner of our state!
6. We must do more to reach more people!
I come away from the ABSC annual meeting recognizing more than ever that ABSC churches and members must do more to reach more people. We have talked it to death over the past few years. This year we need to get out there and make a difference. There is absolutely no reason why 2013-2014 is not a record setting year for baptisms in Arkansas! We are committed to the task at First Marion and I hope others will join us!
7. The time to do the work is now!
We are running out of time. Things are changing all around us. The environment is ripe for Revival. We need to seize this moment in time and let it become legendary among God's people that the spiritual awakening starting in Arkansas!