At the core, the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) should be a missionary organization, linking churches together for the cause of the Great Commission. This means that The Missouri Baptists must have a heart for lostness in our state, and must mobilize to preach Christ, plant churches, and impact neighborhoods in our multi-cultural state. We must realize the depth of the need for Gospel impact that exists in the urban centers of our state, cities defined by the density of population and diversity of peoples. In order to make Christ known, we must prioritize efforts to reach the places where the majority of lost people live and the greatest need exists.
The MBC continues to have a diversity problem, and therefore a missiological problem. The problem begins with the make-up of the Executive Board, which is entirely Anglo, with the exception of our First Vice President. Other than Jon Nelson, our Board does not have representation from a single African-American, Hispanic, or any other ethnic group. Furthermore, the makeup of the Board is almost entirely people living in rural or suburban areas, with virtually no voice coming from within the urban core and population centers of our state. Furthermore, this lack of diversity extends much further than the Executive Board. The boards of our other agencies and the makeup of our State Convention staff has very little if any diversity as well.
At the 2019 Annual Meeting, Missouri Baptists approved a resolution I had the privilege to author with a team of diverse leaders from the St. Louis area and submit to the committee on their behalf that in part read, “RESOLVED, that we urge the boards and committees of MBC entities to continually prioritize and monitor their progress in adequately representing the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of our communities and congregations.” We submitted this resolution in the awareness of the missional urgency of this issue.
If the MBC desires to be nothing more than a collection of churches having little reach into the lostness of our state, then our current approach is just fine. But if we are actually a Great Commission people who authentically desire to go to the hard places and reach the diverse people of our state this must change. Without diversity of voice, it is impossible for the Executive Board to understand the challenges and barriers pastors and churches face in diverse cultures. Without voices from the city, our state will never feel the pull to invest energy and resources into the parts of Missouri where the vast majority of lost people live and work.
Even worse, the lack of diversity in leadership already is a barrier for ethnic leaders as they seek to advance the mission God has given us in these areas. Imagine an African American church planter working with Missouri Baptists showing the pictures in the Jan. 14th Pathway revealing the makeup of our Board to his people. Imagine how quickly they would respond with questions about why their church is partnering with an organization that in no way reflects their community nor seems to have interest in input from their culture. At this time, just stumbling on a copy of this Pathway could cause one of our ethnic brothers to lose credibility among his own people. If we desire to reach the lost in our state, we must make strides toward greater diversity in representation of leadership in all aspects of the MBC. This is vital if Missouri Baptists desire to join the Mission of God and reach into the pockets of lostness in our state.