As we approach #SBC21 in Nashville, I am writing this letter to you – yes, you. I am also writing it to me. By now, you know there’ll be a SEND Conference on Sunday and Monday, our annual meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, and many events and exhibits to take in along the way (if you do not, click here). You know when there will be votes, motions, and all that stuff (if you do not, click here). You probably already know who you can/will vote for (if you do not, click here), but this is not about that.
This is about your witness.
In the room, out of the room, on the plane, out to eat, at the hotel, on the escalator – wherever you are at any given time, you will be a witness. The only question, then, is whether or not that is good or bad. Every second of every day in Nashville, you will represent Christ. The bigger question is whether or not you will represent Him well.
In the room…
There will be reporters from all over. There will be a Livestream capable of sending the meeting across the globe. Before you step to a microphone, remember James 1:19. Before you ask that question, make that motion, or whatever, take a moment to ask yourself, “Does what I am about to say represent Christ?”
And, as I said, there will be countless reporters. If you see one, for crying out loud, show hospitality. Smile at them, welcome them, and reflect the love of Christ to them.
Out of the room…
Maybe an election does not go your way, or a particular motion or resolution irks you. Before you vent in earshot of those passing by, remember Proverbs 29:11. What is more, you will be surrounded by workers from the Music City Center and volunteers from churches that are there to help you. Thank them, ask how they are doing, encourage them, share the gospel with them, etc.
On the plane…
You hopefully see a trend here. Travel is stressful. I personally hate flying, but from the terminal to the gift shops to your time on the plane, there will be people around you. Will they see Jesus in you? Will you take the opportunity to share Jesus with them? The Great Commission speaks to this – as you go, brothers and sisters, make disciples.
Out to eat…
The other day one of our girls stuck a stick in a giant ant bed because she “wanted to see the ant move around more.” Moments later, she exclaimed, “Ouch! Some of these sting!” When we break for lunch or dinner, the Music City Center will look like an ant bed that just got jammed by a stick as 15,000 people rush out to grab a bite to eat. Will you sting?
As you enter the restaurant, you certainly represent Southern Baptists, but more importantly, Jesus Christ. Be nice, be patient, tip well, and consider a short gospel presentation when the opportunity presents itself.
At the hotel…
From the front desk workers or breakfast servers to the housekeepers, will you represent Christ in your interactions with and around them? Will you look for opportunities to share your faith? People from all over will surround you, some here for the Convention, some for other reasons. If you meet a fellow Southern Baptist, I encourage you to take some time to hear their story, ask how you all can pray for one another and the annual meeting, and pray. If they are not, share Jesus with them.
Also, there will be plenty of temptations when you are alone in your hotel room. Honestly, I would simply suggest unplugging your TV and not connecting to the WiFi. Instead, work on your next sermon, pray for the next day of the annual meeting, etc.
On the escalator…
Honestly, this just kind of conveys all the other places you will be at any given time. With 15,000 Southern Baptists around, do not use this time to gripe and moan but to encourage. If you find yourself next to a fellow Southern Baptist, ask where they are from, what God is up to, and encourage them.
This is about your witness.
Your witness will either be good or bad. Things may go your way “in the room,” or not. Regardless, you represent Christ. Keep that in mind as you make your way in and around Nashville, so we can show and share His love with those He came to save. Until we meet in Nashville, I love you and am rooting for you.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Matt Henslee is pastor of Mayhill Baptist Church in Mayhill, N.M. He has served churches across the southern United States for over 20 years. This article originally appeared at matthenslee.com.)