When Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, was a little boy, he loved Superman. So his parents gave him a Superman costume.
“I felt so overcome with the power of having an ‘S’ on my chest that I went out to the front porch of our house and I made a dive out toward the front yard thinking that I was going to be able to fly like Superman,” he said. “When I hit the ground, reality set in. There’s only one Superman, and he’s fictitious. And by the way, I never put that Superman outfit on again.”
There’s no power in living a life centered on superheroes or heroes of any kind, even pastor heroes like Billy Graham, Lance said. The Christ-centered life is the only one that matters.
During his report to the Alabama Baptist State Convention annual meeting Nov. 16, Lance introduced seven missional initiatives that express how the SBOM is trying to be “Christ-focused and Christ-centered.”
1. Spiritual renewal
In adverse circumstances, renewal can often happen, and that’s what Lance said he is praying for — for Alabama Baptists to be spiritually prepared for a movement of God.
“We need spiritual renewal in our individual lives and in the lives of our homes and families, and we need it in our associations and churches, the Southern Baptist Convention and all of evangelical Christendom,” Lance said.
2. Making disciples
Lance said the SBOM continues to look for ways to encourage disciple-making across the state. He mentioned a new effort called Gospel to Everyone that aims to connect personally with everyone in Alabama. More details are coming in early 2022, he said.
Lance also recommended a book produced by the SBOM Sunday School office called “4 Invitations: How the Four Disciple-Making Invitations of Jesus Can Help You Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples,” written by Mark Gainey with contributions from Andy Frazier and Daniel Edmonds.
“It’s a concise way of understanding discipleship,” Lance said.
3. Church health
Alabama has the largest network of church planters among state conventions that handle church planting, Lance said.
The SBOM plans to continue promoting revitalization, planting and replanting so there will be more healthy Great Commission churches in Alabama.
He mentioned that the SBOM has resources and a process in place to help aging or changing congregations who would like to partner with a new church plant “rather than letting that legacy die.”
“We would be glad to help you do that,” Lance said.
4. Calling out the called
Lance said the SBOM wants to focus on praying and mobilizing more workers to the harvest. Part of that is the new Timothy Initiative coming soon, he said.
“We’re trying to take juniors and seniors in college, get them together and be mentored so they can make a missional difference in whatever their major is in college and wherever they go next,” Lance said.
5. Biblical stewardship
Lance announced that Alabama Baptists have surpassed this year’s Myers-Mallory State Missions Offering goal of $1.2 million. And by the end of 2021, Alabama Baptists will have given $1.5 billion through the Cooperative Program since its inception in 1925.
The state is the largest contributing convention in the Southern Baptist Convention, providing almost exactly 10 percent of the SBC budget, he said.
He encouraged Alabama Baptists to continue their “commitment to biblical stewardship, including giving to the local church and giving through the Cooperative Program, which is our missional mutual fund in order that we can effectively do Great Commission ministries.”
6. Sexual abuse
The topic of abuse is something the SBOM has never taken lightly, Lance said. They began training and resourcing churches on the topic in 1990 and in recent years have started an “intentional” partnership with MinistrySafe, an organization advising churches and ministries of best practices to prevent sexual abuse and providing training and workshops for churches.
Two more MinistrySafe trainings are scheduled for February and March 2022. More information is available at alsbom.org/ministrysafe.
7. Intercultural relations
The SBOM is committed to “helping churches in Alabama Baptist life to strive diligently to improve relationships with people of all races and cultural backgrounds,” Lance said.
Part of that is achieved through working together to plant multicultural churches, he said.
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