A few blessings from the annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana:
This past weekend, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana celebrated its 50th anniversary during its annual convention meeting. I enjoy going to the pastor’s conference and convention and always come away challenged and blessed. This year was no exception. I found this year particularly gratifying in terms of Great Commission ministries (the ongoing theme of this blog). Here are three highlights, from my perspective.
1. The speakers this year were especially helpful in focusing us on the importance of kingdom work, staying focused on our mission, and ministering in the Lord’s power and for His glory. The messages were, for the most part, thoroughly biblical and provided both admonishing and encouraging words to those who serve in ministry. You may not think this to be unique to a gathering of this type. Let me say, however, that I heard from men who are not just talking heads, but who live out the message that they preach and who spoke forthrightly about ministry rather than repeat the same old tired clichés about evangelism. It’s difficult to describe, but this year’s pastor’s conference and convention sermons was particularly uplifting to me.
2. For the first time, the State Convention gave out a “Church Planter of the Year Award.” Church planters have one of the most challenging roles among ministers of the gospel and are often under-appreciated for their hard work and commitment. Also, as a State Convention, we have found church planting in general to be a difficult task and have, in many respects, seen more failures than successes. This year, our state honored one of our own church planters, Phil Thorne who planted River’s Edge Fellowship Church in Bedford, Indiana. I’m looking forward to the next issue of the Indiana Baptist for the story about what God is doing at River’s Edge. More importantly, I hope the giving of this award will be an encouragement to the church planters in our state and will remind churches of the importance of church planting as a tool for reaching the lost. Congratulations Pastor Thorne!
3. I personally got excited about the state budget. Several years ago I made and, because of a misunderstanding, withdrew a motion for the executive committee of our state to formulate a plan to begin increasing the percentage of Cooperative Program (CP) giving we send on to the SBC. I recognized later that my motion was an exercise in “zeal without knowledge.” Our executive director, Dr. Steve Davis, graciously observed the spirit behind my motion and let me know that such a plan was already in the works. The executive committee had decided to adopt a policy in which each year that our giving increased to exceed our budget, the apportionment forwarded to the Convention would increase by 1%. Over the past several years, the executive committee has followed through on this plan. This year, we have once again seen an increase in CP giving in our state and also seen the giving exceed our budget needs. As a result, by recommendation of the executive committee, the SCBI has once again voted to approve a budget which reflects a 1% increase in the allotment to the SBC. If I am doing the math correctly, that means that we are now forwarding about 31.6% to the CP, where a few years ago we were only giving about 28%. Thank you churches, thank you executive committee, and Praise the Lord!
Well, there are many other reasons to rejoice over what is happening in Indiana. These are just the highlights that are fresh in my mind. I am thankful that God has allowed me to stay and serve in Indiana. I look forward to what God is going to do in and through our churches in the coming years.