By David Lee, BCM/D Executive Director
People tend to say about me that I am the eternal optimist. They also say that I tend to look at things the way I want them to be rather than the way they are. Guilty! I am, at heart, an optimist. I do look for the good in things and people. I do tend to have a high trust level. You get my trust in advance and will have to do something to violate that trust before I withdraw it. I am also very quick to forgive. I take seriously what Jesus said about remembering how much we have been forgiven and forgive accordingly. Sometimes the optimism and trust serve me well. Sometimes they leave me vulnerable.
With that said, here I go again! It has been a very interesting year and a half leading up to this year’s Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. God was right. We are his “peculiar people.” (Most often in the good sense of that word.) I am watching what appears to me to be an undercurrent leading to what could become a major movement forward for our convention. It may be my optimism sprung loose again or it may be that I am viewing things as I wish they were rather than how they really are. Here’s what I see.
At least twice in my more than four decades as a Southern Baptist, I have seen our convention come to the brink of a great opportunity to join hands and hearts and resources to make a significant move forward to accomplish our Lord’s Great Commission. In both cases we either made poor choices or found something else that we could fight about. The moments were lost and we spent time in the wilderness.
I believe we are there again with the opportunity to join hands and hearts and resources to take our greatest step forward as a convention to accomplish the Great Commission. The conversations have not been easy. Neither have been the decisions.
But what I am seeing is a major effort on the part of many at every level of Baptist life to reassess where we are and set new priorities focused on Acts 1:8 missions.
If church leaders, associational leaders, national leaders, and state leaders can come together, not in uniformity, but in unity, with a genuine Great Commission focus, we may very well see the greatest chapter in the life of our cooperative missions history.
If we cannot find that common ground, and we again make bad choices or find other ways to disagree and battle, then I am not optimistic about our future.
Thus, as I prepare for Phoenix, I am praying that God will give us wisdom, enable us to become one, and give us his Holy Spirit to lead us to shake this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I certainly pledge to try to do my part.
(I write this before Phoenix. I hope as you read this article along with the reports from Phoenix that what I see is more than just wishful thinking. Buckle your seat belts. We could be in for quite a ride!)