Canyon: Last week I traveled the state digitally by mobile phone and wireless internet. As you are so keenly aware we are living in a rapidly changing world. Change seems to be the only constant we can depend upon. It drives our daily reality in ways that stagger the mind when you step back in look. I did two funerals last week for members of my church who were born before the Great Depression. As I prepared for their services I was reminded how the world they lived in changed from a world of horse and buggies to space shuttles and mobile phones. They journeyed from a world of isolation and distance into a “flat world” of almost instant access and total interdependence.
In light of how the world has changed, the organizational patterns and systems of the 20th century must be replaced with new ideas and systems. Sadly, even though we worship and serve the God of time and creation. The God who knows and directs the future, His church seems to stumble behind the times locked in the traditions of the past, and all too often apparently afraid of the future.
Falling behind the times is not a strength of traditional timeless faith; I fear it is a sin of not following the Spirit of God at work within and among us. When Peter stood on the day of Pentecost to usher in a new age he called on the words of the prophet Joel and declared:
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28 (NIV)
Peter envisioned a faith world inspired and fueled by the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit within the hearts and minds of the followers of Jesus. These followers’ young and old alike would dream dreams and see visions of the future with their origins from above and “ahead.”
In light of this spiritual reality one of the challenges we face as the Baptist General Convention of Texas is the coming together of the generations around a common vision and strategy to further the Great Commission of our Lord. When we gather for our annual meetings too often it has been the gathering of the “gray” heads of our past and present. Missing in action have been the young leaders who will shape tomorrow.
In a practical attempt to change that reality this year’s annual meeting will not be your “Grandfather’s Oldsmobile” to steal an old advertising line, but will at moments have a fresh new feel to it. One of our stated goals is to have more than five hundred elected messengers under the age of thirty years old. We hope these young messengers will come from our innovated churches, universities, seminaries, and Baptist Student ministries from across the state and particularly within a hundred miles of Houston.
To give this gathering of young leaders a time to meet, worship, and draw inspiration, we have invited the Robby Seay Band of Houston and the Ecclesia church. Robby and his brother Chris represent a new generation of young “Baptist” leaders who are influencing the culture and changing the world. Robby wrote the theme song “Rise” for the national phenomenon “American Idol” and travels the nation inspiring a young generation with a “Song of Hope.” On Monday evening, Robby and his band will lead worship during our “Texas Hope 2010” story time during our evening session. Following the session Robby’s band will lead an afterglow worship concert designed to be a rally point for the young leaders among us. It should be an amazing night. I hope and pray you will make plans to join us and to bring with you the young leaders you are mentoring and serving side by side with.
Interestingly enough Robby’s father Ed is pastor of First Baptist Church of Magnolia, Texas so Robby is a second generation Baptist leader. Also surprisingly Robby’s favorite car is a 1984 Oldsmobile with a sagging roof liner! See we are not all that different. We are one family! Let’s come together in Houston and put an end to two decades of struggling over our differences and let’s celebrate our oneness in Christ.