BALTIMORE (BP) -- I attended my first Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in June, and I realized that there was (and still is) much that I never knew about Southern Baptists.
In addition to simply learning some of the ins and outs of the SBC and Southern Baptist life, I found multiple reasons to be glad I'm a Southern Baptist.
Following are a few areas at the annual meeting that struck a chord in my heart.Missions/outreach
--The way Southern Baptists do missions through the Cooperative Program is effective.
Before the annual meeting, I understood what the Cooperative Program was and tithed to a church that gives through the CP, but at the convention I witnessed the effects of the CP.
Whether it was through the testimony of a missionary or a video shared during the reports of the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board, it was apparent that the Gospel is being carried forth by Southern Baptist missionaries. CP mobilizes them -- and us -- to do just that.
--Southern Baptists realize that being attentive to the world's needs is a key step in sharing the Gospel.
From disaster relief teams to individual missionaries' ministries, Southern Baptists are meeting needs, opening doors for the Gospel.
During pre-convention Crossover outreach in Baltimore, I spoke with a few disaster relief groups testing some new equipment. They noted that people are more receptive to the Gospel when their needs are met. I believe this is the pattern that Jesus set for all Christians to follow. Often, the Savior stopped to help the hurting before calling them to follow Him.
-- Crossover taught me the value of "combining forces" within the convention.
Crossover was a large-scale evangelism initiative. However, if one or even a few churches had attempted to accomplish for Christ what Crossover did, they would have been severely shorthanded. The efficiency of Crossover was in the collaboration of time, resources, prayers and manpower.Diversity
-- The beauty (and effectiveness) of Southern Baptists is their diversity.
I find it amazing that Southern Baptists, although united by the Gospel, encompass many cultures and generations. This was apparent from the music selected at the convention to the range of individuals who appeared on the stage.
-- The Convention doesn't have to have one specific set of individual characteristics in order to be effective for the Kingdom.
Diversity was reflected in speakers, institutional representatives and even publishing companies represented at the exhibits. Inconsequential differences and generational barriers don't seem to hinder the efforts of Southern Baptists to spread the Word. When a denomination can move past small differences, much can be accomplished for the Kingdom.
The SBC annual meeting and Crossover Baltimore refreshed my outlook on missions, evangelism and giving. I challenge everyone to take time to appreciate the work that Southern Baptists do and remind yourself why you are one. If you can do so by attending an annual meeting, it is well worth your time. If you can't, look at the SBC website
. You, too, may learn something new about what it means to be a Southern Baptist.
Myriah Snyder, who will be a senior at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., is a summer intern with Baptist Press.