27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. Philippians 1:27-28a
In August 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia. The preamble to our Constitution states:
We, the delegates from Missionary Societies, Churches, and other religious bodies of the Baptist Denomination, in various parts of the United States, met in Convention, in the city of Augusta, Georgia, for the purpose of carrying into effect the benevolent intentions of our constituents, by organizing a plan for eliciting, combining and directing the energies of the whole denomination in one sacred effort, for the propagation of the Gospel.
One Sacred Effort. I like that. It is a reminder that no matter how many members (over 14 million); how many churches (over 47,000), how many state and regional conventions (42); how many seminaries (6), how many entities (3); how many mission boards (2); how many publishers (1); how many auxiliaries (1); and how many opinions there are about how things should be done (your guess is as good as mine!); there is still one sacred effort. The propagation of the gospel.
Our Annual Meeting in New Orleans brought over 12,000 messengers from over 4,000 churches. Was there controversy? Sure. Did we agree on everything? We’re Baptists. Of course we didn’t agree on everything. Are there big issues that Southern Baptists will have to face and resolve in the coming years? Yes.
But until Jesus returns, we will all agree that getting the gospel to the nations is the one sacred effort toward which we must be united. The biggest highlight of the Annual Meeting was commissioning 79 missionaries to take the gospel to the nations. Many of them had children. Some of them were leaving adult children and grandchildren behind in the states.
Most of them had to have their identities hidden behind a screen because they are going to countries that are closed to a public witness. Of those, most of them were women.
That “one sacred effort” must apply to the local church as well. Because if individual churches are not “striving side by side for the sake of the gospel” as Paul prayed in Philippians, the Southern Baptist Convention will fail.
Glynwood, may we be united in one sacred effort! One church. Four hundred active members. Five ministry areas. Multiple generations. Dozens of ministries. But all committed to getting the gospel to our neighbors and the nations.
One sacred effort.