The following is my written report for the Book of Reports that will be shared with messengers attending next week’s Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting to be held at Florence Baptist Church at Mt. Zion on Nov. 15.
Executive Director’s Report
A few months into my tenure as your executive director, I am astounded at the privilege God has granted me of seeing the entirety of the ministry Kentucky Baptists undertake through the Cooperative Program. Because of our investment in the ministry of Jefferson Street Baptist Center, homeless addicts in inner city Louisville are being welcomed into recovery, trained for employment, and introduced to Christ. Because of our investment in the ministry of Sunrise Children’s Services, abused and neglected kids are welcomed into a safe place where they can experience love and be told about the love of the Savior. Because of our investment in Crossings Ministries, teens from all across the country are able to enjoy an exciting week of camp and hear a clear explanation of the gospel of Christ. Because of our investment in Baptist Campus Ministries, college students from all over the world are able to find a community of Christians in the place they least expected it. Because of our investment in Disaster Relief, hurting people all around the globe are able to have their urgent needs for food and shelter met by those who serve them and share Christ with them.
Know that this brief list only scratches the surface of all that Kentucky Baptists are doing. The more I see, the more excited I become about the opportunity God has given me to serve you and serve with you!
The theme for the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting is “More for Christ.” The key verse is John 3:30, “He must increase…I must decrease.” More than a theme, More for Christ has become the rallying call of Kentucky Baptists longing for a Great Commission resurgence.
Lostness in Kentucky, North America, and across the globe weighs heavily on the hearts of those who love Christ and desire to see him glorified and his salvation experienced by those who do not know him. My prayer is that our burden for the lost will grow heavier day by day to the degree that we will fall under the conviction expressed in the old catechism: “We have nothing to do but save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in that work.” I believe that conviction captures John’s sentiment when he tells his disciples that he must decrease and Christ must increase.
If we, as Kentucky Baptists, will be found faithful to our Lord and his commission, we must be willing to give more for Christ. As I reflect upon what Christ asks of me personally, Paul’s words from Galatians 2:20 come to mind: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Christ didn’t give more for me, he gave all. So I’m putting all of me at his disposal. “All of me” means all of my time, my family, my money, my stuff. “All” means all. Will you join me?
In addition to the More for Christ emphasis, other recommendations of the Great Commission Task Force continue to guide our ministry and budget planning process. My hope is that the call to prayer, repentance, and spiritual renewal will be heeded and will result in a fresh pouring of the Spirit of God upon Kentucky Baptists. Should that happen, the work of Kentucky Baptists and the resources needed for that work will again begin to grow. The nations need strong, healthy churches sold out to the Great Commission. Our nation and our state need the same.
These are days of historic transition in Baptist life. A new president at the International Mission Board, the North American Mission Board, the Southern Baptist Executive Committee, as well as a new director in our state convention, and several vacancies to be filled in sister state conventions, tell the story the faith once delivered to the saints now being delivered to another generation. While I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to lead the next generation of Kentucky Baptists, I am under no illusions about the challenges that will entail.
The loyalty that characterized the Builder generation, and even many in the Boomer generation, is hard to find among their children and grandchildren. Even though that loyalty cannot be assumed, I believe it can be built as we strengthen our relationships, cast anew the vision of “doing more together than we can do our own,” and explain the Kingdom value of the Cooperative Program. The next generation is not disloyal; they are simply asking, “Where would God have my loyalties rest?”
While many in my own generation talk about stewardship of the earth, fewer understand what it means to be stewards of our personal resources for the sake of God’s Kingdom work. Stewardship must be taught and modeled. As that takes place, I am hopeful that the future of God’s work among Southern Baptist will grow bright. I am hopeful that, as members of my generation come to see the great work God has accomplished through the sacrificial giving of those who have gone before us and the great work God continues to do through those who are faithful in their giving today, they will embrace Cooperative Program partnership as never before.
Anticipating my first annual convention meeting as your new executive director, I incredibly humbled by and grateful for the confidence Kentucky Baptists have expressed in me by inviting me to serve in this new role. You have welcomed our family with warmth and enthusiasm. Thank you. I look forward to what God has for us.