I traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, for CBF MO’s General Assembly last weekend. This was my first trip to Missouri, ever. I would recommend it for many reasons, but especially to meet and visit with the friendly folks in those churches who partner with CBF. Third Baptist was an excellent host for the event! I was excited to see so many generations represented at this meeting, including families with small children, college students, Central Seminary students, and clergy/laity from young to “older.” Perhaps it was the model of the meeting that appealed to such a variety of folks. Let me explain.
Friday’s session of the MO General Assembly was pretty typical, as far as state meetings are concerned – dinner, missional report sharing, worship, and dessert fellowship. However, Saturday was a lot different. The group chose ministry assignments at breakfast and then went out in teams to deliver food, paint, do yard work, help with a school, sort through donated goods, etc. Lunch was back at the church with celebratory sharing and a brief service of communion/blessing.
I was especially motivated by Warren Hoffman’s message on Friday night regarding our purpose on Saturday. I heard him say (whether he actually said it this way or not!) that it was time for us to get our hands dirty (espeically those who call themselves “clergy”) – we need to stop meeting just for the sake of meeting. This new way of “meeting” did several things: (1) It reinforced our local church host’s presence in the community. I chose to help out in a local school just blocks away from the church. This school works with children who have little support from their parents. Many of the children are troublemakers and are in detention or suspension quite frequently. Third Baptist has a team of members that visits the school on a regular basis for relationship building/reading with the students. The school really saw our presence on Saturday as an extension of Third Baptist. On our way out, teachers and administrators said, “Tell our friends at the church ‘hello.'” (2) It built community among Fellowship Baptists. Working together, sweating together, riding together, etc. always does this, doesn’t it.? I now have friends in Missouri that I would not have had, had I been attending a “traditional” state meeting.
So – thanks CBF Missouri for trying someting different! Thanks for hosting me well! I hope other states will take notice!