Spending a few days in Memphis has been more of a pleasure than expected. The anticipated heat and humidity gave way to comfortable summer weather.
The downtown area is more appealing than ever with live music, a nice in-town ballpark and, of course, good food.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly has provided the chance to see and hear many things — more or less.
Let’s begin with the “less” side. There are fewer participants than at previous Fellowship gatherings — with about 2,000 attending to varying degrees.
Many factors impact attendance. I’d suggest these three are the major ones here: (1.) There are fewer local drive-ins since West Tenn. and the surrounding communities in Arkansas and Mississippi would not have the number of local moderate Baptists as would Atlanta, Birmingham or Charlotte, for example. (2.) $60 fill-ups can tip the scales against a road trip for those who otherwise might have driven a few hundred miles for this event. (3.) Many ministers used convention funds and time-off to attend the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant earlier this year.
On the “more” side, I am impressed by the way participants seem to have their “favorite” ministry causes and have become advocates for them.
Many times I’ve been stopped by someone who wants me to write a story about the creative ministry effort in which they or someone they know are engaged. (My “story ideas” list is growing.)
If nothing else has been accomplished in recent years among Baptists, the idea that the Christian mission resides in the hands of every individual is taking hold.
Missions is more than a monthly church check sent to a denominational office. While cooperation is still greatly needed, such funding does not lift the mantle of mission from churches and individuals.
This day (Friday) will provide the opportunity for more inspiration and ideas. But I’ve had enough pork ribs for awhile.
(Hint: Neely’s served up the best I’ve ever had.)