When I speak about creating a disciple-making culture in churches across our state, I often talk about the changing face of North Carolina.
While we have a mandate to go into all the world, we are also seeing the world come to us from places that we know have little or no gospel witness. In our research to find the greatest pockets of lostness in North Carolina, we continue to find people from other countries that the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) International Mission Board (IMB) classifies as unreached people groups. In His sovereignty, God has given us unprecedented opportunity to reach the world right now and right here in North Carolina. More than 300 different languages are being spoken in the homes of children who currently attend one of our N.C. public schools. Our churches must look like and reflect the diversity of our communities.
I give thanks to God and rejoice because I am observing an increase in the racial and ethnic diversity within the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC), both in terms of messengers who attend the annual meeting and individuals who are serving in places of convention leadership. We have 566 ethnic churches and missions in our membership of 4,300 churches. This includes 140 African-American churches, 12 African churches, 115 Hispanic churches and 80 Native American churches.
This list goes on with multiple Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Nepali, Chinese Mandarin, Vietnamese, Hmong, Montagnard, Burmese, Pakistani, Russian, Nigerian, Indian, Cambodian, Romanian, Bangladeshi and other multiethnic churches. While significant progress has been made, much work remains to be done.
As our state continues to become more ethnically diverse, it is important that our churches and convention leadership also reflect that diversity.
God’s church on earth should look like the redeemed in heaven. I pray that the recent tragic murders of nine innocent people in a church in Charleston, S.C., will not be forgotten, but rather the Christ-like response of surviving members of that congregation will serve as a spark to ignite a new era in which we embrace racial equality and drastically improve relationships among all races of people. The Church of Jesus Christ should lead the way in this movement because He has called us to love one another.
One of the things that made our recent SBC meeting in Columbus, Ohio, especially moving was the beautiful display of unity that took place during the special prayer service on Tuesday evening as Southern Baptists of different racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds served as leaders during this service.
It was a thrilling experience and a beautiful sight as our diverse group of Baptists attending this service embraced one another, prayed together, shared testimonies together and worshipped our God together in a spirit of oneness in Christ.
As we continue to push back darkness and impact lostness through disciple-making, I pray that God will raise up even more pastors and laity who will join hands and hearts in unity to reach the nations for the Kingdom of God wherever these people are found.
“After this I looked, and there before me was as great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb …” – Revelation 7:9