How and Where Do Southern Baptists Advance the Gospel?

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) will meet in Nashville, Tennessee next week, June 15 & 16. Please be in prayer as we meet. In preparation for our annual meeting, I’ve been reminding High Pointe of who we are and what we do as Southern Baptists. In this, our last article on Southern Baptists, we answer the question, “How and where do Southern Baptists advance the gospel?”  The following information was taken from www.sbc.net.

How and Where Southern Baptists Advance the Gospel

Southern Baptist churches across the nation begin their ministries in their own neighborhoods to reach their local communities with the Gospel; but they don't stop there. The strength of Southern Baptist work is found in their voluntary cooperation to work together to advance an aggressive global vision while maintaining a strong home base of ministry fruitfulness.

Cooperating together is not a new idea. The Apostle Paul applauded churches in the New Testament that pooled their resources for Kingdom purposes (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1-2, 16-24; 11:8). The BF&M summarizes the biblical pattern of cooperation this way:

"Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and convention as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ's Kingdom" (BF&M, Article XIV. Cooperation)

The Cooperative Program -- Funding the Advance of the Gospel

Cooperation helps fuel the fire of Southern Baptist missions and ministries. Close to home, Southern Baptists advance the Gospel locally by working together in a local association of churches. The Gospel is advanced beyond the local level through participation in missions endeavors, through prayer for these collaborative endeavors, and by contributions through the Cooperative Program, the unified program for funding Convention work.

When Southern Baptist churches support the Cooperative Program in their respective states, their state Baptist convention uses those funds to fuel the ministry and mission goals established by the churches in that state. Each state Baptist convention forwards a percentage of the funds received by the state to the Southern Baptist Convention, providing financial support for more than 10,000 missionaries in North America and around the world, theological education through six Southern Baptist seminaries for more than 16,000 full-time and part-time students, and moral advocacy and promotion of religious liberty through the ERLC. Cooperative Program funds forwarded from the states also provide support for the SBC operating budget and the work of the SBC Executive Committee.

Obviously, to spread the Gospel message to the neighborhood and to the nations requires organization and structure to help facilitate the goal. For more information on the structure of the Southern Baptist Convention, click HERE.

The Convention -- Working Together for the Gospel

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed "to provide a general organization for Baptists in the United States and its territories "for the promotion of Christian missions at home and abroad, and any other objects such as Christian education, benevolent enterprises, and social services which it may deem proper and advisable for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God" (SBC Constitution, Article II).

The SBC is directed by representatives of Southern Baptist churches, called messengers, who meet once a year to adopt a unified missions and ministry budget called the Cooperative Program allocation budget, elect trustees to oversee the ministry entities of the Convention, receive reports from the SBC entities, and transact the business of the Convention. These messengers come from churches that have voluntarily banded together to support the missionary, educational, moral advocacy, and benevolent causes of the Convention.

Southern Baptists work together to spread the Gospel throughout the land and around the world. Working through 1,169 local associations (composed of the churches that are geographically close to each other) and forty-two state Baptist conventions (composed of the churches in single or multi-state groupings), Southern Baptists voluntarily unite to engage in the Acts 1:8 pattern of spreading the Gospel -- in their local communities, throughout their states, across the nation, and around the world.

Southern Baptist Ministry Entities -- Assisting Churches in the Advance of the Gospel

The Convention assigns and conducts its work through eleven ministry entities -- two mission boards, six seminaries, an ethics and religious liberty commission, a publishing and retail ministry, and a financial resources services ministry -- a woman's missions auxiliary, and an Executive Committee. While some of these ministries are self-sustaining, the majority are supported by the churches with financial contributions through the Cooperative Program. Of contributions received by the SBC, almost 73.2 percent funds missions and almost 22 percent provides ministerial training through our seminaries. Each of these ministry entities exists for the express purpose of assisting churches in the ultimate goal of advancing the Gospel.

  • Missions, evangelism, and church planting are facilitated through the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board.
  • Ministerial preparation and continuing education are provided through Golden Gate, Midwestern, New Orleans, Southeastern, Southern, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries.
  • Christian ethics and religious liberty ministries are assigned to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
  • Church enrichment ministry and literature publication are assignments of LifeWay Christian Resources, which receives no Cooperative Program funding.
  • GuideStone Financial Resources which also receives no Cooperative Program funding, manages ministerial retirement insurance needs and administers Mission: Dignity, an assistance ministry for retired ministers and their families.
  • The SBC Executive Committee is charged to conduct the work of the Convention between annual meetings in all areas not otherwise assigned to one of the ministry entities.
  • The Woman's Missionary Union is the sole auxiliary of the SBC. It cooperates very closely with the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board to encourage churches to give generously to support missions through contributions to the Cooperative Program and two annual mission offerings.

Why Southern Baptists Do What They Do

The answer to the why we do what we do is simple -- Southern Baptists proclaim and minister the Gospel because the love of Christ compels us to do so (2 Corinthians 5:14).

God loved us enough to send His one and only Son to pay the penalty for our sins. Whoever believes in Him has eternal life (John 3:16). In response to the love He has lavished on us, we are called to love one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12-17).

Jesus summarized this truth in what is called the Great Commandment -- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).

We know the Way to have our sins forgiven and to have a right relationship with God; the Way to be redeemed from our sin and delivered from its consequences; the Way to have eternal life -- not just forever in heaven, but the fullest life possible -- the life of knowing Him (John 17:3) and knowing Him (Philippians 3:10). That Way is Jesus (John 14:6). Love compels us to share the Good News of His love and extend the offer of His forgiveness with as many as possible.

Love,
Pastor Juan

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