I read and heard about predictions of denominations being on the way out, lost and dying. Baptist historian Bill Leonard said, “Most denominations will survive in some form but with much less prominence in American religious life than they have had before, and that’s across the denominational spectrum.” Gone are the days when communities formulated policy and activities around the church.
This may be true, but one thing I believe as a young 58-year-old: I believe Texas Baptists have a tremendous opportunity to learn and be creative in reaching Texas for Christ.
There is a need for more trained Christian leaders. I am a firm believer in theological education for those who plan to lead in a church. I have served and worked at some wonderful schools, and I realize the value of that training. I also believe Texas Baptists possess many opportunities and programs to prepare, train and involve many in the kingdom work.
I am so grateful for the past three years that I have served as an officer of the convention. I have had a chance to see more closely how the convention works, to know the incredible people who are serving our convention, to preach throughout the state and to be with many good and healthy Texas Baptist churches.
There are so many wonderful things that our convention and our denominational work in Texas are doing, and the best part of it all is that God is using that work to change lives.
I also am thankful our convention has not conformed to the cultural norms of our society for families and marriages. Instead, Texas Baptists are reaching out to love and embrace people, cultures, ages, languages and the poor.
Are we perfect? No, but I believe God is using this convention and denominational work. I can criticize, complain, talk negatively, ignore or even join another convention, but the first thing I will do is to pray. Pray for our convention, pray for our leaders and pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest, as Matthew 9 says, “to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Let me invite you to come to the convention’s annual meeting in Waco Nov. 13-15 and find out for yourself the great things God is doing throughout our convention. The denominational work in Texas may not be perfect, but God is using this denominational work to bring others into the saving knowledge of Christ. The convention exists for the church, and the church needs your help to once again be a factor in our communities.
May God be honored in our service and work. I’ll see you at the convention.
René Maciel is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and community life pastor at First Baptist Church of Woodway in Waco.