As Southern Baptists travel to Houston for next week’s annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, I am reflecting upon some of the reasons I am a part of the Southern Baptist tribe.
First, deacons from a Southern Baptist church showed up at the door of our rented house when I was five years old. My father was raising three sons on his own. We had just moved from the government projects where we had been living with his parents and two of his younger siblings while he got back on his feet after our mother had filed for divorce. A couple of deacons from First Baptist Church of Jellico, Tennessee came by to invite our family to worship. I’m not sure what those men were thinking since, other than trouble, we didn’t have much to offer First Baptist Church! But they knew they had much to offer us in a loving church family that ministered to us in our brokenness and helped my father give the guidance that boys need.
A second reason I am Southern Baptist is due to another visitor from that church a few years later. The visitor this time was our pastor, Allen Harrod. Pastor Harrod was there, at the invitation of my father, to speak with my older brother who was considering giving his life to Christ. My younger brother and I listened in as our pastor shared the gospel. We all trusted Christ and were later baptized together, entering into the membership of a Southern Baptist church.
A third reason I am Southern Baptist also relates to First Jellico. The pastors, Sunday School teachers, Vacation Bible School leaders, and so many others taught me that the Bible was “totally true and trustworthy… and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried” (Baptist Faith and Message). As I grew older and became familiar with other religious faiths and denominations, I was easily convinced that the beliefs of Southern Baptists were most closely aligned with what the Bible teaches.
Among the many other reasons I am Southern Baptist is that I believe God would expect me to embrace the most efficient and effective means of accomplishing the Great Commission. While Southern Baptists don’t have the Great Commission market cornered, I haven’t seen any other denomination, network, or movement that rivals the work being done by the cooperative efforts of Southern Baptists.
Southern Baptists evangelized me, helped raise me, discipled me, educated me, licensed me to preach, ordained me for ministry, and have always helped facilitate opportunities for me to obey the Great Commission. For these and many other reasons, I can’t imagine being anything other than a Southern Baptist.