FENTON, MI – Diamonds. American tradition says that a 60th anniversary means diamonds are to be given as gifts. Could you imagine if all of us showed up at the 60th anniversary of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM) at Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, MI on November 7-8, 2017 ready to contribute jewelry so that we could move boldly forward into the future???
Watches? Rings? Necklaces? Coin collections? Gems? In Exodus 35-36, we see where Moses invited the community to give so they could build a tabernacle. The tabernacle was the mobile worship center of the living God. That mobile worship center reminded the community and their unbelieving neighbors that God was in the center of their daily lives.
Read chapter 35:5 and you will see the call was issued to those with “generous hearts.” Read further and you will see in verse 21, those who responded were those “whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved.” Throughout the account the ones who gave were described repeatedly as the “willing.” As the collection came in, designers designed, sewers sewed, craftsmen crafted. The event was community-wide. Everyone with a “willing heart” was involved. They gave tribute. They gave time. They shared their talents.
The achievement is recorded in Exodus 36:6-7 (NLT) where we read, “So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: ‘Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!’ So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings. Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.” Wow! Can you pause long enough to let that sink in? It said, “Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.”
Where are the willing hearts today?
I am going to the annual convention at Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, Michigan on November 7-8 because I want to praise God for what God did through the people of the past. I am also going because I want to respond with you, as a community, to the invitation God issues for our future. I want to go with a willing heart. Will you?
Do we understand as a people of God what that means, what it looks like? Let’s begin with -What Makes Us a Convention of Churches?
There are three simple traits that make us a united convention of churches:
We believe together
We give to the same priorities
We cooperate to achieve God’s desires
Back in 2000, our national convention reissued a confession of faith that expresses our beliefs. It is called the “Baptist Faith and Message 2000.” You can read the confession in one of nine languages: www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp
Back in 1925 our national convention of churches created the Cooperative Program, which, today, is a unified system of giving and distributing funds from 45,000 churches to our highest priorities. You can see how large that love spreads by looking at this “Heart Chart:” www.sbc.net/cp/loveinaction.asp
Cooperate to Achieve
Our churches can cooperate in many ways. Locally, within the state, and on a national level as we mobilize and act for different reasons. Some are continuous and other initiatives are special efforts such as the heroic ways in which Southern Baptists acted for those in need during the Hurricanes, and still are. Each church member and each church selects when and where they want to participate.
When you and I attend the annual convention at Middlebelt Baptist Church in Inkster, Michigan on November 7-8 let’s remember it’s more about “willing hearts” than anything else – out of willing heart come the contributions that change the world.
1/3 Are Missing a Blessing - One last word, check with you pastor, church treasurer, or leadership team and ask how often and how much your church contributes to the Cooperative Program through the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. I did some research and discovered that 1/3 of our churches have not given to the Cooperative Program during 2017.
If that is your church, you’re missing out on changing the world. It has never been easier to give. Contributions can be made securely, online by going to www.bscm.org and clicking on the “online giving” button. Individual contributions or repeat contributions can be set-up within minutes.
May we give as those in Exodus gave. Let’s look forward to the day when we hear, “Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project” (Exodus 36:7, NLT).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.