By David Lee, BCM/D Executive Director
Balance is a good word. Balance is not compromise. Balance is not achieving a “mean or average.” Balance is balance. Something “in balance” tends to work better than something that is “out of balance.” When one thing gets out of balance, other things are affected. When a person while walking loses his balance, he falls. A checkbook out of balance can create an overdraft (and unpleasant letters and phone calls.) When our daily schedule gets out of balance, we can find ourselves focused too much on less important things and not enough on those things that matter the most. Even in our spiritual lives balance is important. There must be balance, for example, between praying and doing. There is a time to ask God to do something for us. And there is a time to stop asking and do what we know we must get up and do for ourselves with His help.
In every aspect of our lives, we must exercise balance. In fact, those who are most productive in life are those who are most balanced. The prime example is Jesus himself. I encourage you to take the time to go back and read the four gospels with a direct emphasis on observing how He lived a balanced life.
Balance is also a key to our success as a convention. Early in our history our primary focus was our cooperative effort in sending and supporting missionaries to share the gospel here and abroad. We soon began to cooperate in providing colleges and seminaries to train our missionary personnel and our church’s ministers. We saw the need to get the gospel to our campuses, so we started cooperating to put campus ministers on our college and university campuses. We learned that we could plant more churches if we did it cooperatively. We did these things and many more based on the premise that churches could do more together than we could do individually. And in many cases, without doing it together, we could never have achieved what we have achieved as Baptists.
Perhaps, the pendulum did swing too far in that direction, because we began to hear calls from local church leaders concerned that “churches were serving the convention, rather than the convention serving the churches.” Rightly so, we all were reminded that Jesus founded the church and that the local church is still the place where the “water hits the wheel.” So we began to adjust and put emphasis on answering the question from our churches, “What is in it for us?” “What can the convention do to help my church?” But now, in my opinion, the pendulum has perhaps swung too far in that direction. Our cooperative missions effort is in danger of becoming secondary to our servicing the local church. Again, in my opinion, we are in danger of becoming “out of balance.”
I believe both are important—cooperative missions and servicing the local church. I believe that your church’s mission is “mission critical.” But I also believe that we will not accomplish the Great Commission unless we do it together. I contend that we work best as Southern Baptists when we achieve balance in those two key areas of our work. Acts 1:8, the missions map given to us by Jesus, is actually a balanced approach. A local church can be actively involved in the cooperative effort with other churches to reach “Judea, Samaria, and uttermost” and still receive help to accomplish their “Jerusalem” vision.
Some may call me old-fashioned. Yet, I still appreciate old words like “cooperative” and “together.” I have even embraced new words like “synergy.” To me, Acts 1:8 is not an “either/or” proposal, but rather an “all of the above.” It calls for “balance.” Would you take a few moments and ponder your own church’s involvement in our cooperative missions effort? Would you evaluate whether or not your involvement is balanced? Balance is a good word. “Balance” is a good and healthy approach to kingdom work.