I’m a Southern Baptist. I’m also a North Carolina Baptist and a Transylvania Baptist. I want the best for my conventions and my association. If you’re a Southern Baptist, I hope you want the best for your conventions and association also.
On a very fundamental level, what makes me a Southern Baptist, North Carolina Baptist, and a Transylvania Baptist is cooperation. I’m a part of a church that gives of their money to these organizations. I believe in the Cooperative Program. I really believe that our thousands of churches putting our money together to fund missions, education, and taking care of the other day to day business that comes along with the Convention is an incredibly effective means. A normative sized church like mine couldn’t imagine of being able to support thousands of missionaries, six seminaries, a Bible College, a number of orphanages, and hundreds of church plants on our own. We put our money together with tons of normative sized churches like ours and churches that are hundreds of times larger than ours and we get a lot done for the kingdom of God!
As helpful as that kind of cooperation is, I don’t think it is enough. I don’t think being a good Southern Baptist is as simple as putting money in the plate and sending a check to Cary or Nashville. I believe we need participation as much as we need cooperation. One of my pastors and mentors told me something years ago that made a tremendous impact on me. He told me, “just show up, and you’ll be put in positions of service and leadership.” The reason he said this is because not enough people show up to associational meetings, and if you’re faithful to show up you might just be seen as faithful enough to serve. Not too long after he gave me those words of wisdom I found myself serving as a pastor, leading that church to re-join the local Baptist association, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, and the Southern Baptist Convention. I showed up for the meetings. It wasn’t because I thought I needed to be seen, but because I know it takes more than just putting money in the plate to make things happen. We need “boots on the ground” so to speak to work well as cooperating Baptists. It wasn’t long after re-association that I found myself serving on a number of committees. I loved it (and still do).
I’m the first to admit that every committee that is out there may not need to exist. But there are committees (or teams if you’re up to date on the lingo these days) that do need to exist. We need people serving on every level. We all need people to serve in our local church, someone is needed to head up the Baptist Men’s work in your association, the state convention needs someone to work with registrations, the Executive Committee of the SBC needs members so they can appoint a new CEO. None of this would happen if someone wasn’t willing to serve.
Just show up, that’s my admonition to my fellow Southern Baptists. Attend your annual association meeting, State Convention, and Southern Baptist Convention if you’re able. You’ll know more than your average Baptist bear if you do! It’s a great service to your convention, and also your church. Showing up and knowing what is going on is a great way to encourage your local church concerning their Cooperative Program giving. When you hear the person behind the mic begging yet again for nominations to fill vacancies, step up and fill one. If you know someone who can serve in a vacancy well, nominate them (with their permission of course). I hear far too many people who complain about the happenings in SBC life who never take the time to show up for an association meeting or a convention meeting. If you don’t like the course of action being taken, write a resolution, submit a motion, or show up to the mic. At the risk of being cliche, “if you want change, be the change.” If you’re tire of the status quo, show up!
It’s a privilege to be a messenger for my local church at association and convention meetings, a member of our association evangelism team, and a member of the Historical Committee of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. But none of those things would happen if I wasn’t willing to “just show up.”
It often doesn’t take a ton of time, it sometimes requires sacrifice, it can sometimes be incredibly frustrating if I’m honest, it can be boring and monotonous, and it can be monumental and history making, but it needs to be done. Would you be willing just to show up? Start out being a messenger to your annual association meeting or state convention. Pray about filling a vacancy. Help send a messenger if you can’t show up yourself. Just show up.