I did not grow up in church. I fell in love with God while attending a small pentacostal church which did some big stuff to reach students. At age 16 my father became a Christian and we started going to a church, a baptist one. God did a lot of things in the baptist church, I watched it grow from 350 people to over 1,000 people in just a couple of years. I witnessed many peoples live being changed. So when I finally started to get serious about my faith as a college student I attended a Baptist church. Then when I responded to the call to Pastor and decided to pursue a degree in Biblical Studies, I chose a Baptist college.
But, as I got involved in ministry in a Baptist Church and then transitioned to Pastoring a church plant that is affiliated with the Baptist Convention, I began to get discouraged about the future of "Baptists". Many people will not attend a church that has Baptist in the name because of the feeling that it invokes. I have seen a failure of Baptist leaders to reach out to younger generations because of their traditions. I have seen money spent on "fellowships" and "buildings" over reaching people. I have seen churches that are a political democracy rather than a pastored theocracy. I HAVE BEEN DISGUSTED!
However, I have not abandoned the Baptist Convention. They have a history of reaching many lives that is unmatched. They have established hospitals and houses of hope across our nation. They have come together to send many people into foreign lands. So, I have continued to hope that the old way of doing things would become a preference and the new lives that can be reached would become the priority!
Well this past week, a young guy who Lord-willing has many years ahead of him of leading people to increase God's kingdom was given another reason to have hope. In a surprising and unconventional move the Florida Baptist Convention elected John Cross to serve as president. John (who is my mentor and good friend) wants to engage young leaders so that churches coming together through the Baptist Convention can renew their efforts to lead people to Christ. He wants to learn from organizations like ARC and Acts 29. He wants to utilize people like Ed Young, Perry Noble, and Troy Gramling who are leading people to share the Gospel boldly. He wants things to change!
So a guy who loves Jesus and just wants others to see how great HE is; will hope and trust that this is a sign that things will get better, that Baptist will become relevant to a culture that has abandoned God, and that affiliating with them will contribute effectively to lives being changed!
YJC, I am praying for you and behind you.