I recently wrote about the BSCNC’s Seven Pillars for Ministry. These are the guidance for our collective ministry as NC Baptists.
Practice fervent prayer – This commitment is first because it is the central pillar to the work that the BSCNC is tasked to undertake. Each of the other pillars are possible because of the power of prayer. The convention staff must be composed of people of prayer and the churches of the convention must be frequently exhorted to be people of prayer. The work ahead of us is ordained by God but empowered through prayer.
Promote evangelism and disciple-making – The convention does not make disciples, but we must ensure that the promoting of evangelism and disciple-making among our churches is an ongoing emphasis. The churches that comprise the BSCNC and the Christians who constitute those churches must be given every resource at our disposal to reach North Carolinians with the gospel of Christ. As a convention we help facilitate resources to the places where the gospel is needed.
Strengthen existing churches – Our established churches have long served as the backbone of our convention. They are often comprised of those saints who have devoted their lives to the church, have been faithful in their work, and generous in their giving. They are often tucked away in little corners of the state—places that are not trendy places to live or well known by outsiders. Yet, they exist in communities and neighborhoods in desperate need of the gospel. They may seem, to some, like places that time has left behind and yet the Lord loves them and desires to see them thrive. Therefore, the convention must seek to take any steps necessary to strengthen existing churches. If existing churches continue to be weakened, the future of the convention’s work, the effort to expand our presence throughout the state, and the mission to the ends of the earth will not be possible.
Plant new multiplication churches – We must seek to plant churches that plant churches. The population of North Carolina is 10.5 million people. The BSCNC is comprised of about 4,300 churches across the state. That means each church is responsible for reaching 2,442 people if we want to reach our entire state. That means we need more churches to reach the ever-growing population of our state. We also want and need those new churches to be churches that plant more churches because the population and the lostness around us are not going to stop growing. We must plant churches that are not satisfied simply existing. These new churches must desire to reproduce.
Reach North Carolina’s international community – North Carolina is growing, and that growth is not just among the Anglo community. Because of our place in the world as a leader in innovation and academic research, people are coming from all over the world to live here in North Carolina. We have been afforded a great blessing by Christ to reach people right where they are. Research shows that there are more than 340 languages spoken in the homes of NC public school children. Just as the nations came to Jerusalem when the Spirit fell on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, so that nations have come to North Carolina. The BSCNC has the great opportunity to equip our churches to reach the nations located within our own borders. We get to see the Great Commission being fulfilled as we look out our front doors.
Embrace unreached and unengaged people groups – The ministry of the BSCNC is not confined to our state. The nations have come to us, but we must also go to them. According to the IMB, there are 11,723 people groups in the world and of that number, 7,063 are unreached with the gospel. Within an unreached group, there is no community of Christians to reach them. They wakeup each morning with no knowledge of the gospel and no hope. North Carolina Baptists cannot allow this reality to persist and we cannot outsource the responsibility to reach these groups with the gospel to someone else. The Great Commission of Jesus falls upon us. The BSCNC has and must continue to embrace these groups, with the help of our mission partners, with the gospel. We must be a resource to churches, keeping before them the urgent needs, assist in partnerships between churches for the purpose of engaging unreached groups, and resourcing pastors, associational missions strategists, planters, and church leaders so that church and associations can embrace these unreached groups.
Engage young church leaders – Young church leaders are not the future of our convention; they are the present reality. In 2021, it is likely that the five elected leaders of our convention will all be pastors under 45 years of age. The key is not simply electing young leaders to positions but ensure that young leaders know the history and value of our convention. Our convention has a storied past and, I believe, a bright future. Our EDT has led us through troubled waters and has set his successor up for great success. We must ensure that young leaders are having the opportunity to serve the convention, not simply lead it. It is through service to the convention that I have learned the most about where we, as NC Baptists, have come from and where we are going. I did not understand, until I was afforded opportunities for service, exactly what it means to be a NC Baptist. We must always strive to help young church leaders, especially young pastors, serve the convention so that as the time comes, they are ready to lead the convention and lead it well.