June 30, 2021

 

A Word from Walker

A week ago both Craig Clayton and I drove to Nashville to attend the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. It was Craig’s first Convention and my fourth. We had a little bit of anxiousness about this meeting because recently there has been a lot of press about the rife divisions in the Convention. To be honest, we did not know what to expect. But what we saw and heard was something different. While there are differing opinions on a number of issues, we found that the vast majority of approximately 17,000 folks in attendance were in agreement on the following issues:

  • A renewed commitment to evangelism, missions and collaborative ministry
  • A clear call to accountability among all institutions to address any occurrence of sexual misconduct
  • A determination to address the problem of racism from a Gospel-centered perspective
  • A rejection of any centralized control by any agency and a reaffirmation of the autonomy of the local church
There were many other issues discussed and resolutions passed. But the four I mentioned addressed the core concerns many had going into the Convention. Both of us came away from that meeting with a sense that there still exists an overall unity among Southern Baptists on the core essentials of the faith. Along with this, Craig and I also attended the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) prior to the Annual Meeting. Over 400 leaders from Associations from across the United States were present and we had a great time learning more about how the PMBA can be even more effective in our mission. While both of us were very tired when we got back Wednesday there was great potential for good in our Convention. Keep praying with me that God would make us faithful stewards of his calling.

Your fellow servant in Christ,
Walker Armstrong

 

June 30, 2021

 

Craig's Comments 

 
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:7
 
In our relentless pursuit of the goal of being “missional” sometimes we can lose sight of the essence of this passage. Most times we are consumed with dragging people kicking and screaming to church with the hopes that a magical transformation will take place if we can just get them in the doors. Yet, when we examine scripture this was rarely practiced in the New Testament. Once again, we have the opportunity to take a step back and ask if this is something that has been ingrained in our culture that may not be wholly biblical? We don’t want to face the reality that we all wear red, white, and blue glasses that color our cultural perceptions and biblical understandings of so many things.

As a young man in seminary, I took a class by a man who I had never heard of, Bruce Winter. The main text for the class was his book Seek the Welfare of the City. In the course of that class I was reminded over and over that the church is called to be the “sent ones” who find those who are hurting and need the Good News of the Gospel to provide healing that can only be found in Jesus. That class had a deep impact on me as I sought to contextualize the many examples that I saw in scripture of people who boldly took the Good News to those within their reach. It wasn’t easy and was often messy, but the bottom line was that they did it. They made mistakes along the way, but they resolved to passionately serve Jesus who willingly laid down His life for them.

Once again, I am revisiting a book that emphasizes that challenge to seek the welfare of the city (Center Church, Keller). Now that I have served in ministry for over 25 years, how am I doing? That old temptation to try to limit the power of the gospel continues to beacon me to “contain” (as if that were possible) the power of God in a physical structure. I love the word of God in Isaiah, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?”

We need to resolve today to seek the welfare of the city by being a people who are applying and employing faith in each and every circumstance that we might see the fresh wind and fresh fire of God move among us once again. Not only in a revival service where we control and dictate how God might work in someone’s life, but engaging faith that we vociferously claim as our own to sow seeds that yield a harvest that can only be described as a God-sized task. So where will you start? How is God leading you?

We are gearing up for our August missions blast so now is as good of a time as any to light up the fire within and pursue that holy objective that God has planted deep within your soul. It would be our joy and pleasure to walk along with you on this journey as you work out that which God has worked in. Just let us know if we can serve you or your church in preparation for future service.

Peace,
Craig Clayton