As Dallas hosts next year’s annual meeting of Southern Baptists, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) is extending an invitation for churches to bring mission teams as well as messengers.
Whether it is the week leading up to the June 12-13 meeting, extending their trip into the next week or finding another time frame later in the summer, mission volunteers will find plenty of opportunities from which to choose throughout the state, noted Barry Calhoun, SBTC director of missions mobilization.
“In 2018 we will have opportunities for churches in other states to get a taste of foreign missions in Texas along with some Texas BBQ,” Calhoun said. “There will be vision tour opportunities in key cities in June for pastors, mission leaders and church members as they visit our state.”
With more than 28 million people in the state and 18 million of those lost and without Christ, Calhoun said the 25,000 to 40,000 people moving to Texas every month increases that ratio.
“We can’t plant enough churches to keep pace with the population growth, so we need other states partnering in Texas to help us reach the nations that have come to us,” he stated.
The Reach Houston Initiative combines church planting and revitalization in the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is home to more than 350 ethno-linguistic people groups speaking more than 220 languages, making it the most diverse city in North America.
“We also have the longest border of any southern state,” Calhoun said, “and our borderland strategy helps to carry the gospel of Christ into Mexico from the Rio Grande Valley to El Paso, without us ever crossing the border as part of our Reach Houston and Borderlands Reach initiatives.”
With more than 300 languages spoken in Texas, mission team volunteers can make use of the 1Cross app produced by SBTC as an evangelistic tool for sharing the message of the gospel in multiple languages. The three-minute gospel testimonies in video form feature native speakers, making it possible to overcome a language barrier when witnessing.
Prior to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting, pastors can take advantage of training for revitalization and replanting. Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting at the North American Mission Board (NAMB), said the June 9-10 lab will feature “actual practitioners leading conferences and breakouts on every aspect of how to replant a dying church for God’s glory.”
Participants may include “a pastor who is in a church that is really declining, a pastor who thinks he might want to enter this type of ministry and help replant dying churches, or a pastor whose church would like to be a supporting, sponsoring or sending church to help recover churches that are about to die,” Clifton said.
After the first day’s training on June 9 at Criswell College in Dallas, the pastors will spread out across the Dallas-Fort Worth area to worship with churches being replanted or revitalized as well as hear their strategy over lunch. The closing session moves to Texas Stadium in Arlington prior to the Harvest America crusade featuring Greg Laurie.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell appealed for thousands of volunteers to be a part of proclaiming the name of Jesus in Dallas.
“What if we left Dallas next June and people were talking more about the impact we had for Christ than they were about the fact that we held an annual meeting?” Ezell asked. “Our revitalization and replanting lab, the Crossover Crusade partnership with Harvest America and mission opportunities with Texas churches will be among the many ways Southern Baptists can make that happen.”
Details of opportunities for mission teams will be posted at sbtexas.com/mobilization.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tammi Reed Ledbetter is special assignments editor for the Southern Baptist TEXAN, texanonline.net, news journal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)