By Ken Stalls, BCM/D President and Pastor of South End Church, Frederick
Our church has just recently completed participation in a time of Solemn Assembly. We joined together with a multitude of churches across our denomination in this time of focused purpose of coming before our Holy God in a confession of our sin, repentance and fervent soul searching. We did this individually and corporately, as both Christians and church. It was a holy and moving experience. It forced us to focus on who we are, on whose we are, and on where we are going from here. This was an experience that I would strongly recommend to any church, regardless of your size or location.
As I reflect on what all of this means to our church, I began to think about our convention. One of the things that I personally re-evaluated was our mission as a church. We have a mission statement, but is it valid for today and for tomorrow? I began to think about this for our convention.
Our Mission statement for BCMD is: “The Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware will intentionally assist in starting and strengthening congregations so that together we can fulfill Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1::8.” My conclusion was that this is an extremely accurate and desirable statement for us, but one word in that statement really stuck out in my mind. The word together emerged into my focus as if it were a branding iron. Just how “together” are we? I also quickly concluded that if we are not together, then all of the rest of the statement will fall apart. If we are not together, our witness for our Lord will fall apart. After all, did He not say that “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”? If we are not together how can we say that we love one another?
No one will argue that we have our differences. That is obvious. It is even alright if we disagree about matters, but can we disagree in an agreeable manner? Can we have our differences and still come together as one in Christ? ABSOLUTELY! The genius of Southern Baptists since our inception has been that we could find a way to agree and cooperate in order to fulfill the basic command of Jesus as is seen in Matt. 28:19-20 and in Acts 1:8. Should we change our Mission Statement? I do not think we should. But, do we need to change ourselves, especially in regard to our feelings about our “togetherness in Jesus”? I am convinced that we need some serious work in that area.
We are quickly approaching a time of dealing with some major questions about who we are going to be and how we are going to respond to our Lord’s command to us. No matter what we decide, it must be engulfed in true love for one another and in Christian unity. We do not have to “see eye to eye” about every point, but we do need to be “heart to heart” in the process.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your president and of being your friend and brother in Christ. May our Lord continue to bless you as you serve Him. May He richly bless us and our dear convention.