For my first visit to the city of space aliens and UFOs, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived in Roswell, NM for this year’s annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. I’m glad to report that the only space ship that I closely encountered was the flying saucer-shaped playland at the local McDonald’s. And, the only reason that I stopped for a quick meal there before leaving Roswell was the marquee which proudly advertised that the McRib was back. Boy, was it good, but I digress!
This year’s meeting, graciously hosted by Pastor Matt Brooks and the good people of First Baptist Church of Roswell, was marked by inspirational preaching, great singing, and a sweet New Mexico Baptist spirit. This gathering of folk from Southern Baptist churches from all regions of the Land of Enchantment, the 5th largest state geographically, was also marked by the absence of politics and political posturing.
From the great preaching of out-of-staters like Dr. Chuck Kelley of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Daniel Henderson of Liberty University to the inspirational messages delivered by New Mexico Baptists Gary Wolfe and Bruce Kirby, I (along with my fellow messengers) was inspired to focus on Jesus Christ and the awesome privilege we have to come before our mighty God in prayer.
While many at the annual meeting were aware of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and Recommendations (one NAMB representative even made a joke about having to read the name of the new NAMB President because he couldn’t remember it), the GCR — as opposed to the Great Commission — was not a distraction to the spiritual business at hand.
And, for New Mexico Baptists, the business at hand is to renew our passion for prayer that we might be empowered by the Holy Spirit to win New Mexico and the world for Christ! If we are to have a true Great Commission Resurgence, it will come with a grassroots spiritual renewal that begins with prayer, not a top-down organizational restructuring that starts with politics!
How refreshing that there were no back-room deals with a pre-selected slate of officers that were presented to the rank and file for their “approval.” I can’t imagine that happening in any Baptist State Convention, can you? Well, it doesn’t happen in New Mexico because our churches are the definition of what it means to be a grassroots Southern Baptist. And, it doesn’t happen in NM because we have a cooperative and irenic spirit which prevails among the State Convention leaders, pastors and churches of the BCNM.
That was no where more evident than in the unanimous election of Dr. Maurice Hollingsworth, Senior Pastor of FBC of Las Cruces, to serve as the next President of our Convention. Dr. Hollingsworth, a former missionary and current Trustee of the International Mission Board, is a man of prayer who has led his church to renewed heights of spiritual intercession. How fitting, then, that Dr. Hollingsworth, a humble servant of God, would be chosen by acclamation to serve New Mexico Baptists as our President at our annual meeting where prayer, not politics, was the focus.
As Dr. Joe Bunce, Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico, reminded us in his annual report, each church and each state convention is called to “hoe the row” that God has placed before us. In his folksy way, Dr. Bunce cautioned that we cannot be concerned about what others will do with their “rows,” including other Baptist State Conventions or NAMB or the SBC as a whole. Rather, he said, we must keep our focus on cooperating together to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment in our communities, state, nation, and world.
Regardless of how others (conventions and churches) handle the Cooperative Program and regardless of how the North American Mission Board decides to partner with the State Conventions, God continues to work in and through Southern Baptists in the Land of Enchantment. As one of the few Baptist State Conventions that has experienced an increase in baptisms, New Mexico Baptists are experiencing a true Great Commission Resurgence. And, we didn’t even have a task force. Go figure!