ODESSA, Texas (BP) — The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) emphasized the urgency of evangelism and passed resolutions on racial reconciliation, sexual misconduct and mental health at its annual meeting Oct. 28-29 at First Baptist Church of Odessa, Texas.
The Southern Baptist Convention’s evangelism outreach “Who’s Your One?” was the theme for the group’s 22 annual meeting, which featured Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam Greenway and International Mission Board President Paul Chitwood as guest preachers.
Messengers approved a $28.9 million budget for 2020, continuing the SBTC’s practice of sending 55 percent of undesignated receipts to the national Cooperative Program while retaining 45 percent for Texas Cooperative Program ministries. The 55 percent reflects the largest percentage of Cooperative Program giving of any state convention, SBTC said.
After a welcome from Executive Director Jim Richards, SBTC President Juan Sanchez, pastor of Austin’s High Pointe Baptist Church, gaveled the convention to order Monday evening.
Richards welcomed groups from El Paso and Midland-Odessa, announcing a time of prayer for pastors and staffs from those cities in the aftermath of August’s mass shootings.
“Texas has experienced some of the most tragic consequences of human depravity,” Richards said, praising the response of local pastors to their communities and outlining ways the SBTC has assisted.
Applause erupted as the El Paso contingent stood. Messengers surrounded them while Sanchez prayed in Spanish and English that the Lord would bless, protect and “use them in the midst of tragedy in this historic moment” to advance the Gospel. Reminding attendees that messengers voted three years ago to hold the 2019 meeting in Odessa, Richards thanked pastors and staffs from that area for their “consistent witness and testimony,” inviting them to stand, surrounded by attendees, as Sanchez again prayed.
Who’s Your One?
Chitwood called upon attendees to focus on the “one” that God would have them evangelize, recalling a visit by two Baptist deacons to his modest childhood home in the eastern Tennessee mountains where his single father raised him and his two brothers.
“I had no clue how kind the Lord was being to us, how our lives for eternity would over time forever change because of the faithful witness of two Baptist brothers, out looking for their ‘one,’ knocking on doors, inviting people to church,” Chitwood said, introducing his text, Revelation 22.
Greenway preached on Luke 5 and linked cooperation and evangelism, noting that the four friends who carried the paralyzed man on a stretcher to see Jesus did so together. He called the text an “example of those who found their ‘one.'”
Sanchez preached from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, recalling lessons from his own time in the U.S. Navy, when the goal was to “accomplish the mission.”
Believers have a “clear mission” of going into the nations and making disciples, Sanchez said, a “clear strategy” of preaching Christ, and a “clear mission field” that is the unbelieving world hostile to God.
Andrew Hebert, pastor of Amarillo’s Paramount Baptist Church, preached the convention sermon.
With Paul as his example, Hebert urged the audience to carry the Gospel in both “weakness” and “boldness,” reminding them that “small faith in a big God equals big faith” and that “hardship” is a “worthy sacrifice” when enduring in evangelism.
Charles Lee, pastor of Acts Fellowship Church in Austin, spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, recommending perseverance in evangelism.
Caleb Turner, assistant pastor of Mesquite Friendship Baptist, spoke on 2 Corinthians 5:11-15, beginning with an illustration of a 1985 New Orleans tragedy in which a man drowned in a pool with 100 lifeguards present. The lifeguards, or laborers, lacked focus, Turner said.
With a reminder that “our friends are drowning,” Turner emphasized urgent evangelism, lamenting that some churches may have become “too big” to remember “the least of these.”
Richards, in a message from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, told of nearly drowning as a child, expressing gratitude for the man who saw him “in desperate need at the deep end of the pool,” as he began his message on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.
“So many are at the deep end of the pool. Someone must go rescue them,” Richards said, calling his text — with its repeated emphasis on reconciliation — “ideal” for underscoring the meeting’s theme.
He described many who prayed for his salvation as a teenager, his own “dramatic transformation.” Among those who prayed was his best friend.
“I was his ‘one,'” Richards said.
A total of 1,029 registered for the meeting, including 772 messengers and 257 guests.
Messengers elected Kie Bowman, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church of Austin, as convention president; Tony Mathews, pastor of North Garland Fellowship, as vice president, and Frances Garcia, secretary of Primera Iglesia Mexicana of Odessa, as secretary.
Executive Board President Danny Forshee, pastor of Austin’s Great Hills Baptist Church, described the findings of the special needs task force which outlines resources for churches and proposes a Special Needs Sunday.
Messengers approved resolutions expressing appreciation for Sanchez, FBC Odessa and first responders in the El Paso and Midland-Odessa shootings. Also adopted were resolutions “On the ‘Who’s Your One?’ Evangelism Initiative,” “On Legislation Relating to Liability for Disclosing Sexual Misconduct,” “On the Prosperity Gospel and its Promotion,” “On Racial Reconciliation” and “On Mental Health, the Local Church, and the Need for Gospel Compassion.”