Reflections on SBC ’09 in Louisville: Time to Walk the Talk

Just a few thoughts on the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville. Several have already written helpful responses to this year’s convention (see Ascol, Cross, Rainer, Reid, IMonk, and Stetzer). Here, I will express my own response. I will give you three reasons I attended this year and three thoughts as I departed this year’s convention.

Many reasons excited young Southern Baptists and provided optimism for this year’s convention. Young Southern Baptists have not always been excited or optimistic about attending conventions. Even so, I know too many friends who think it odd that I would even attend this year. Judging by their comments, many of my pastor friends would rather preach a funeral than to leave their city and church (where they are welcome) to go to a Southern Baptist Convention (where they believe they are unwelcome). In this case, perception is reality. Yet I had three reasons for attending this year.

(1) To attend a couple meetings with church planters and church planting churches. I have a dream of mobilizing churches and planters to partner together for the planting of more missional and confessional Baptist churches that have the DNA to plant more churches across the states and beyond. I was privileged to meet several amazing churches and planters who are in love with God and the Gospel and, as David Platt preached, willing “to die in their devotion,” rather than ‘to die in their religion.”

(2) To spend time with a hero of mine, John Keith (my father-in-law), who has been pastoring SBC churches for nearly 40 years in KY, TN, FL, and UT. I was overwhelmed with the time spent with my father-in-law. As we witnessed the events, and listened to the sermons, we stood together as God moved his heart, and mine. We disagreed graciously with each other on some points of importance during the convention, yet we were always determined to agree together on faithfulness to Gospel ministry. In truth, he has always been more patient with me, loving me despite my flaws and always willing to go the extra mile to coach me back to Gospel faithfulness. Many times this week I prayed the older SBC generations would love my generation as sons and seek unity over the Gospel. It was powerful to hear Ed Stetzer make that point in his message. Continue reading

Core Values Study: Sent Living

I know, I am endanger of letting this blog slip into the blog graveyard. As soon as I learned I was once again a church planter (back on April 26), it was as if life launched into warp speed. Nevertheless, there are great things to report.

Much of what I am doing right now is getting out into the eastern Lee County community (Alva, Buckingham, Fort Myers Shores, Lehigh Acres, East Fort Myers)  and meeting people. As I go, I have been praying God would direct my steps and allow me to see where He has been working and where I need to go. This past month I have met several great people and see God at work amidst this area.

I have been meeting with a core group of people in Lehigh for about six weeks now. My family and I are really enjoying this season of forming new friendships, and seeking God together to catch His vision for this new church. We are gelling! I use that word purposely because a few in our group are unashamed Gaither fans (southern Gospel), and yet I had them listening to Shai Linne (hip hop music) after our meeting Sunday night. Good times!

Sunday morning I met with about ten adults and ten children before we worshiped with our church family at Grace. I asked, before we can identify what values this new church will embrace at our core, what are some of your personal core values? I asked each one, including the children, to tell me what first came to their mind.

Here’s what they said: God (3), Family (7), Church Community provided through in-home small groups (3), Bible (2), the Gospel (5). Obviously, there are some that overlap. Having this discussion will be helpful for us this summer as we begin to think through what this new church will hold to firmly.

So we began looking at Sent Living, the first core value listed on our website that was prepared for us by Timmy Brister, an elder at Grace, and a brother I have grown to love over the past year. Here is what we mean by Sent Living: “The local church is realistically a church of missionaries, sent by the Father to live actively participating in the mission of God which is to bring glory to Jesus Christ.”

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