Arkansas Baptist News
Some of you reading this recently attended the 162nd annual meeting of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in Hot Springs.
It was a wonderful time of worship, fellowship and of taking care of Baptist business.
Baptists are famously, or infamously depending on your perspective, committed to meetings and always have been.
Significant meetings of Southern Baptists – aside from those held at their local churches – are the annual association meetings, annual state meetings and at times, annual Southern Baptist Convention meetings.
So what are we to make of Baptist meetings today in the 21st century?
It seems meetings have fallen on hard times, much like many other traditional aspects of our Baptist denomination.
So just why are Baptist meetings important, such as the recently-completed annual meeting? Here’s my take:
(1) They demonstrate our unity in Jesus Christ. In spite of our historic autonomy, when Baptists meet, they are united around their collective passion for the cause and mission of Christ.
(2) They provide fellowship among believers. Each year Baptists from across the state fellowship with other believers that make up the Body of Jesus Christ. Sometimes it is the only time we see friends in the ministry all year long, and of course, we always seem to make new friends as well!
(3) They help us to see how our giving reaches people for Jesus Christ well beyond the walls of our church, state, nation and world. Need I say more?
(4) They provide us a time of corporate praise and worship with believers beyond our own church community. It may be the way we worship away from our own church differs than what we do week to week ... and that sometimes can be a good thing!
(5) They provide the saints a time of challenge and encouragement around the mission of Jesus Christ. Nowhere does a Baptist receive more encouragement and is more challenged to be about the mission of Jesus Christ than at the annual meeting and related Pastors’ Conference. Pastors, church staff and other leaders especially need a special time of encouragement away from their own ministries.
(6) They give us an important infrastructure for conducting the business of the kingdom. Whether we like it or not, Southern Baptists didn’t grow to become one of the largest Protestant denominations in history without organization, strategy and collective direction. The annual meeting helps Baptists plan how they will carry out the Great Commission around the cause of Jesus Christ.
Tim Yarbrough is editor/executive director of the Arkansas Baptist News.