One of the most challenging aspects of Christian leadership today is staying focused on our core mission—the Great Commission—and devoting our efforts to fulfilling strategic goals toward that end. Competing agendas constantly shout for our attention. Focusing our attention on what really matters is even harder today.
Since our denomination lacks centralized authority and one ultimate leader, a few individuals must call all of us to fulfill our most important tasks. Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC Executive Committee (EC) along with the other entity presidents, are trying to do this. At the Nashville convention in June 2021, the EC will recommend an all-out denominational effort to fulfill five goals called Vision 2025. This is a concentrated effort to shift our focus from a thousand other things vying for our attention to a few key drivers that will make an eternal difference.
The first of those goals is to “increase full-time, fully-funded missionaries by a net gain of 500, giving us 4,200 full-time, fully-funded missionaries through the International Mission Board.” The second goal is to “add 5,000 new SBC congregations to our Southern Baptist family, giving us over 50,000 congregations.” In short, more churches!
The church is the primary means through which the kingdom of God advances around the world. The church is important for so many reasons—from its inter-generational scope to its multi-faceted ministry impact. The best way to make a difference in communities now and for eternity is to start more churches. There are still towns without any evangelical church in North America. There are still neighborhoods without any gospel-preaching church. There are still ethnic groups in North America with no congregation worshipping in their language or culture. And, the major cities in the United States do not have enough churches to reach their burgeoning populations.
We need more churches, which means we need more church planters, Christians who will join church planting teams, churches and individuals who will fund church planters and plants, and denominational leaders working as partners to coordinate these efforts as effectively as possible. There is a place for all of us in this effort to expand the number of SBC churches.
At Gateway, we prioritize starting churches—all kinds of churches in all kinds of places. We provide generous scholarships for church planters and encourage students to join church planting teams, while many of our leaders (like my wife and I) model the importance of this by serving in a church plant.
Southern Baptists are at our best when we are sending missionaries and starting churches, which is reflected in these first two national goals. If you wonder why you should serve with Southern Baptists, let these two reasons compel you! Sending missionaries and starting churches is at the heartbeat of who we are, what we do best, and what we must do together in the future.