I’ll be in Baltimore this week for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The first one I attended was in 1982, and I’ve been to most of them since. I always love going and want to share with you why I’ll be there this year.
It’s like a family reunion. I will see people I have known and shared life and ministry with for years. There will be college friends and seminary buddies; former pastors and fellow staff members; preachers I’ve worked with and missionaries I’ve prayed for. And on and on and on. I’ll meet new people and make new friends. And, I’ll share lots of hugs, laughs, and even some tears with people I don’t get to see very often – usually only at the SBC.
It’s like a great halftime speech. I loved playing football in high school and to this day, I still love a great halftime speech. The team is in the locker room after a hard-fought first half. The coaches who love us and want us to succeed are correcting mistakes, and complimenting successes – and motivating us to finish the game well. It’s a time when the players look each other in the eye and say, “Let’s do this.” At the SBC, I’ll hear great preaching from respected leaders and great vision from denominational entities. And yes, I’ll even be challenged, as a Baptist, to focus on the right things and re-charge for the rest of the battle. During the worship and presentations, God will be speaking to the leaders of His people in the SBC. And Southern Baptists gathered there will look each other in the eye and say, “Don’t quit. Keep fighting. God is on His throne!”
It’s like a War Room strategy meeting. As Christians, we understand we are in a battle for the hearts of minds of people all over the world. We know we have the final victory, but we want to declare that victory into the lives of individuals here and now. We also know we have an enemy who seems to be gaining ground in the culture faster than we can claim it for the Gospel. At the SBC, I see leaders and soldiers in the army of God explaining strategies that envision the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the return of our Captain. And, I see the urgency of the effort as I hear the prayers of people going up all over the convention.
As a life-long Southern Baptist, I know full well we are not perfect. And, yes, at the SBC that imperfection is on display. But, I also know that God is at work in us and will do more through us in the days ahead. At the SBC, I’ll be side by side with my brothers and sisters – to pray and spur one another on. I wouldn’t miss it.
Hope to see you there.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.