These reflections come in the midst of me leading another small group through Henry Blackaby’s study Experiencing God, and my attendance at the February 2021 SBC Executive Committee Meeting in Nashville as our state convention’s trustee. As I share my thoughts, I do so with some major disclaimers. First and foremost, you need to know that these are MY PERSONAL thoughts. I am not speaking in any formal capacity, nor on behalf of any other Executive Committee member, nor for anyone on the Executive Committee staff. Second, I share them with humility knowing that where you have three or four Baptists gathered together you have at least five or six opinions on any given topic. Chances are I could read this next week and wonder what kind of a nut wrote that! I also share them knowing that my reflections are an extremely simplistic way of viewing some very complex and integrally intertwined issues.
During the Nashville Executive Committee meeting, Dr. Ronnie Floyd recast his Vision 2025—a clear and compelling vision that was to be approved at the 2020 SBC meeting in Orlando, which was canceled due to COVID. Dr. Floyd’s passion was bolstered by the fact that we could hear him in person, and that we have the expectation of meeting in person for the 2021 convention this June in Nashville. Having a clear vision is “Good News!” However, at that same meeting, we had to deal with several issues that fall into the “Bad News” category. Those issues are significant enough that even a clear and compelling vision can be drowned out by the cacophony created by unrecognized and unaddressed conflicts. That reality reminded me of an old Hee Haw skit that Archie Campbell did. In the routine, he contrasted the “Good News” and “Bad News” that can arise out of any given situation: Oh that's good.
As I began to reflect on the Good News-Bad News contrast, I thought about the slogan General Motors used in their 1988 campaign to re-energize the Oldsmobile brand: “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Stop and think with me for just a minute about some of the huge changes that have taken place in SBC life in the last fifty-plus years:
Before I suggest how the “Good News” in the changes I mentioned above are at the core of some of our “Bad News,” let me suggest some principles that can help us generate “Good News” in any setting.
Retiring in April 2022, Mark R. Elliott served as a Director of Missions (Associational Mission Strategist) in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska for almost three decades. He is a strong advocate for obedience and Biblically based disciple making. As such, he knows that making healthy disciples requires Christian leaders to be constantly pursuing spiritual maturity—be lifelong learners. Because of the time constraints of ministry, most pastors focus their reading list on resources that assist them in teaching and preaching the Word of God. As such, books focusing on church health, leadership development, and church growth tend to find their way to the bottom of the stack. With that reality in mind, Mark has written discussion summaries on several books that have helped him to personally grow in Christ and that tend to find themselves on the bottom of most pastor’s stack. Many pastors have found them helpful as they are able to more quickly process great insights from other pastors and authors.