I am in Ft. Worth at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s annual General Assembly, sitting on the second floor lobby of the Omni Hotel looking out at the Convention Center, where most of the activity is taking place. This is my fourth General Assembly, and during each one I have had the same three thoughts…
1. I find great meaning in being a part of something that is larger than my local expression of Christian faith. I was nurtured in the Baptist way of “doing church” that recognizes the voice of all baptized believers as equally valid. This opens us up to much messiness and great inefficiency, but also allows room for beautiful things to happen. In a world where my generation is shedding denominational identity, I am happy to be firmly grounded in a historical expression of the faith that is multifaceted and layered, but that has a passion for the actual Good News that God has not left us alone in our helpless state, but is working among God’s church to redeem all of creation.
2. These meetings, for me, are primarily about reconnecting with old friends. I have heard numerous horror stories from pastors who go through years of ministry without ever having opportunities to develop meaningful, life-giving relationships. I have been blessed with a handful of people that I love dearly and who not only share my story, but are a part of my story. These times give us a chance to re-enter each other’s narrative and provide lovely asides of smiles, laughter and memory.
3. At the end of every meeting I am reminded how amazing my own community of faith, University Baptist Church in Waco, is to me. I am afforded, week in and week out, with the opportunity to walk alongside a very loving, and gracious group of people. I get to help shape how they think about and respond to God. God! Not just their lives, careers and longings, but the ultimate creator of the Universe! And they give me so much room to breathe and to grow, something that isn’t always granted to young ministers. (Am I young? Who knows.)
As I walk through the hallways of the hotel and convention center, I love seeing others who I don’t know, but who I sense are having the same experience. And I am thankful for the moment.