Sunday, June 8, 2008

Off For Indy

Over the next two days, several thousand Messengers, representing more than 43,000 Southern Baptist Churches across America and around the world, will descend upon Indianapolis, Indiana for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. The Indiana Convention Center (pictured at right) will be the venue for the meeting. I'll be leaving for the 4 1/2 hour drive immediately following the morning worship service at WBC today. Darrell Clark and Paul Harris (mission pastors at Wayne and Barboursville) are also planning on leaving this afternoon. We are hoping for safe travel but unsure of what we might find in central Indiana, since that area received 11 inches of rain yesterday, spawning the worst flooding in that area in over 100 years. While the Convention will meet there this week, I would expect that the SBC Disaster Relief "machine" will move into that area immediately, in seeking to help minister to the thousands of individuals and families that have experienced severe losses due to the storms and flooding. Please pray for the many people of the 44 county disaster area, that there would be a minimum of loss of life, and that they would be able to quickly recover property and infrastructure from the flood waters.

The convention activities actually began last week with the "Crossover Indianapolis" effort that has become an annual event in the convention city, one week before the meeting convenes. Crossover involves various block parties, back yard Bible clubs, neighborhood canvassing and witnessing, tract distribution and other evangelistic activities. It is keyed by local Baptist Churches and the host Association and State Convention, and supported by hundreds of people arriving early for the Convention to take part in the evangelistic blitz. Crossover is a great event and will have seen many people come to Christ, and provide thousands of prospects and opportunity for followup for local Baptist pastors and congregations.
The SBC Pastor's Conference will begin this afternoon, while I am on the road. One of the features will be the initial screening of "Fireproof", a new feature film produced by Sherwood Baptist Church - the same church that produced "Facing the Giants" a couple of years ago. "Fireproof" will begin showing in theaters soon. Pastor's Conference activities will continue tonight and all day and evening on Monday. I always look forward to the Pastor's Conference, for it's fellowship, inspiring music, and powerful preaching. In my opinion, it is worth the trip to the Convention for the benefit of the Pastor's Conference alone.
The Convention, proper, will be called to order Tuesday morning by outgoing President, Dr. Frank Page, and will run through Wednesday. The two day event is full of reports from the various SBC entities, business sessions, elections of Convention officers and trustees for the various entities, special music, theme interpretations, and great preaching. There will be a great emphasis placed on the Cooperative Program, which is the primary funding mechanism for sending over 10,000 home and foreign missionaries, funding of the six seminaries, and the other ministries of the largest Protestant denomination in the world.
During the convention, there are always special get-togethers for the local associational Directors of Mission, Southern Baptist Conference of Evangelists, State Convention Presidents, etc. I've been invited to two special lunches - one for Upward Partners on Tuesday, and the other for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary alumni and friends on Wednesday. The exhibit hall and the huge on site LifeWay store are also always a popular site to learn more about what is going on at the various entities and to talk to the many other exhibitors. It's also always a great place to meet and fellowship with old friends from around the country.
Those who would like to keep up on Convention activities can pick up a live streaming broadcast on the SBC website, on Tuesday and Wednesday. I will also hope to be posting each day with my take from the convention, if I can get internet service on a regular basis.
Let us pray that all of the business, budget debates, and other activities will continue to focus on Jesus. As Doug Virgin says, "The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing."

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