I have been part of the Southern Baptist family since I was born. For more than fifty-eight years, I have been forever marked by the network of churches known as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). I’m so thankful for the SBC and for all they have given me. I grew up in a small Southern Baptist Church but had access to all the networks and resources of the SBC. Much of my spiritual formation can be directly attributed to the cooperation and commitment of Southern Baptists.
As I attend this year’s convention, I am reminded of all I am thankful for as a Southern Baptist:
• I am thankful for the biblically focused resources that were a part of my spiritual development from the time I was born through adulthood. I am thankful that theology and doctrine mattered in the development of those resources. I am thankful that the truth of God’s Word was central to all that I read, learned, studied, and shared.
• I am thankful that the world has always mattered to Southern Baptists. From the time I was a little girl growing up in a rural setting, I was taught about the world and my eyes were opened to love the people of the world.
• I am thankful that sharing the good news of Jesus is a part of what it means to be Southern Baptist. I am thankful that we pray for people to come to faith in Christ, that we keep working on training and resources to help people know Christ, and we celebrate when someone comes to faith in Christ.
• I am thankful for all who have lead faithfully over the years, who have poured into the church, loved the church, and served faithfully through the church. For all those who rock babies, serve through children’s ministry, love students through youth ministry, for the many women who serve through women’s ministry, and overall adult ministry.
• I am thankful that we believe in the power of prayer so we pray. We pray as individuals, we pray as a church, and we call people to prayer as the SBC.
Fifty-eight years of life as a Southern Baptist. At the SBC this year, I have hugged old friends who have been faithful in ministry for the decades, I have fellowshipped with those my husband and I have discipled through our years of ministry, I have cried with fellow believers who are hurting, and I have prayed with those who are discouraged in ministry. That is what we do as Southern Baptists.
Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Sometimes we are just family and we have conflict and disagreements. But like families, we keep working together because being family is more important than any issue or challenge.
Yes, the world is changing and some of the methods we have used in the past are no longer needed today. We must take an honest look at the future and be willing to change what needs changing and find new ways to cooperate.
But we need the heart of Southern Baptists—a commitment to the church, biblical truth, a love for the people of the world, and a strong belief that sharing the gospel, the good news of Jesus, is what we do.
What hasn’t changed? I don’t think the heart of Southern Baptists has changed at all. Together we can do more.
The world is going to become even more hostile to the gospel. Now, more than ever, we need to come together to pray, encourage, support, and commit to doing all we can to serve the bride of Christ, the church, faithfully until Jesus returns.
I am so thankful I came to faith as a young girl growing up in that rural Southern Baptist Church. Jesus gave me life, life abundantly, and life eternal. He captured my heart and I have never gotten over the grace freely given to me. As Southern Baptists, we can never ever forget what Jesus has done for us.
The older I get the more I realize the sacrifice of those who have gone before to give so much that I benefit from today. I am grateful for all who served faithfully in my own church, through the network of Southern Baptist Churches, and through all the agencies of the SBC. I pray that we will hand off well this work to the future generation and cheer them on as they run the race focused on Christ.