Why I’m Attending the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention

Today I, along with several other leaders from the Summit, will be boarding a plane for Phoenix for the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The Summit has partnered with the SBC for as long as there has been a Summit, and it’s a partnership that has greatly enriched our church.

The SBC enables and equips us to send our people out in ways that we simply could not do alone. For instance, we currently have more than 200 people serving overseas, with three-quarters of those sent through the International Mission Board (the SBC’s sending arm). The most recent estimate I have is that it costs about $44,000 a year to keep a missionary on the field. That means the SBC is footing the bill for more than $6 million to send and equip our missionaries. For that, we are enormously grateful. It’s testament to the power of cooperation. We are stronger as a group of churches, united around one mission, than we could ever be on our own.

The North American Mission Board (NAMB), too, is a crucial partner for us in all that we do within the U.S. Over the past decade particularly, I’ve been consistently encouraged to see a flood of leaders step up to guide NAMB. At this point, I consider NAMB the premiere church planting agency in the nation, which is why every domestic church plant that we have ever sent out (36 of them to date, praise God!) partners with NAMB.

The Summit also has a front row seat to much of what is happening within our six SBC seminaries, all of which exalt the trustworthiness of Scripture and see their task as equipping pastors and missionaries. Right in our own backyard we have Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, which has been the formal training channel for a huge portion of our staff, myself included!

With so many of our people benefitting from the work of the SBC, it’s simply wise stewardship for us to stay involved. More than that, the SBC is our family. That makes the SBC’s Annual Meeting a sort of enormous family reunion, with all that such a reunion entails. There are some “uncles” that may be a little peculiar. But we’re family, so we still come to the same table, united around the same gospel vision—and the diversity of views can often be enriching.

I’m looking forward to re-connecting with people I haven’t seen since last year’s Annual Meeting. I know I’ll be encouraged to hear reports of what God is doing throughout the country and the world. And I pray for all of us to be challenged to deepen our focus on both the gospel and the mission.

I’ll see many of you in Phoenix! It may be 105 degrees, but it’s a “dry heat,” right?