Recently I spent a few days with other state convention executive directors, as well as editors of state Baptist newspapers. This annual gathering always reminds me of the uniqueness of our Southern Baptist network of churches. It also is a highlight because I see ideals in these leaders in which Christ calls us to excel.
Each of those in these groups is a deeply spiritual leader. Love for Christ and devotion to God are a hallmark of these men and women. Conversations often turn to remembering the power and call of God on our lives. Their passions are many; to see the world come to a saving knowledge of Christ and to serve churches and develop Christ-followers who will bring spiritual transformation to communities and countries, are but two.
These are believers of high integrity. Often in a group like this, members jockey to portray themselves as better than others. This is done in many ways - "trash talk," innuendo, put-down, misleading remarks, hurting accusations, etc. But I am thankful for this fellowship where such conversations are not evident. I'm thankful for a fellowship of believers where encouragement, truth and love are at the forefront of conversations.
I am grateful for the few days spent where Christ was exalted, encouraging words were spoken, testimonies of transformed lives were heard from visiting speakers and local pastors, and the presence of God was the guiding force of our conversations.
During the time for local state conventions - Utah-Idaho and the Northwest (Oregon and Washington) - to share their story, we learned their plight is a familiar one, with only a small percentage of the population identified as followers of Christ. Their percentage of unchurched may be higher than in California, while our numbers are greater because of the larger population base.
But again, this reminds me of the responsibility we have to pray, not only for California Southern Baptists and our struggle to penetrate society with the gospel, but to also pray for sister conventions that struggle to make Christ known in communities throughout their states.
I am thankful to God for my colleagues who model His character through their actions and service. My prayer is that the leaders and members of our California Southern Baptist congregations exemplify the highest behaviors which will honor and bring glory to God.