Well, the annual meeting of Southern Baptists has ended. I found things to celebrate and things to contemplate from those days with so many of my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters. Much of my pondering derives from the election of Dr. J. D. Greear as president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I believe Dr. Greear’s election marks the beginning of a sea-change in Southern Baptist life. He is the youngest man to be elected president of the Convention in decades, and he won with a decisive 68% of the vote. He has the confidence and support of a broad section of Southern Baptists, including a growing influential group of younger, urban pastors.
A few more years will tell us if we witnessed a major shift in our convention. One thing I know, what we’ve been doing isn’t working. We are losing more churches than we are starting across the country and we are winning fewer people to faith in Jesus. Somehow, this must change. God has blessed Dr. Greear’s ministry in powerful ways. I’ll be praying that he influences more of us to do more for God’s kingdom. I can assure you that we’re going to continue to do our part here in Montana and we’re also going to continue to do what we can to influence the rest of our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to do the same.
As I ponder how the Lord is going to sort out things in Southern Baptist life for His glory, I’m certainly celebrating Montana Southern Baptists. I believe more of our people attended this meeting than ever in the history of the Montana Southern Baptist Convention. I saw our pastors and their wives everywhere I went. It was great. Many of us even met for breakfast one morning and filled up two long tables, and that was only about half of all our people who were there. And our exhibit was fantastic. William Johnson deserves a great word of thanks for all his hard work and time. Not only did he get the booth ready, he also put in untold hours standing on a concrete floor, greeting every person who came by with a smile and a challenge to come to Montana. He wasn’t alone, either. We were well represented by Montana pastors and church planters doing the same. Plus, our very own Dave Carroll served on a panel and talked about the Cooperative Program and ministry in Montana. I was so very proud of all my Montana brothers and sisters. It was a great. I believe those days will bear spiritual fruit in our beautiful state for years to come.
As I got on the plane for the long trip back, I thought to myself, I can’t wait to get home. After just a year-and-a-half in Montana. I’m feeling very much like this is home. I’m so grateful for the kindness and support our pastors and churches continue to express toward Denise and me. We have our challenges here, but we are proving that any church that is determined to reach people with the gospel will see people saved and baptized. We serve the same God who broke down the spiritual barriers of the Roman Empire, who sent waves of revival across our country. He has not changed, nor has His love for people lessened. He is ready to do a great work through any people who dare to trust Him and tell of His great works. We’re seeing just the beginning of that across our state. I’m looking forward to what is to come here in Montana and among our family called Southern Baptists.