By Bill Webb
During the past few weeks, Word&Way has had the opportunity to cover events involving the three entities that have traditionally referred to themselves as Missouri Baptists. Our staff has presented coverage of the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri and the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, the latter two in their statewide annual meetings.
Perhaps this is a good time to explain our approach to publishing a state Baptist newspaper.
We have heard from people deeply involved in each of these Baptist groups who sometimes question why we bother to seek out news and information about one or both of the others.
First, we believe we have something to offer every one of these groups and their adherents. We do our best operate according to our vision statement: "We will inspire and challenge our readers to grow in Christ-likeness and to a deeper involvement in Baptist life."
We believe every Missouri Baptist has (or should have) a desire to become Christ-like. We also believe that if every Baptist became more deeply involved in Baptist life — the missions and ministry part of Baptist life — we all would have less time to point out the logs in each other's eyes.
Second, we believe all three Baptist groups have demonstrated a desire to make a spiritual difference in Missouri and beyond. All three have budgeted funds for missions and ministry. A common denominator in the meetings of all three are testimonies that reflect God is using people from all three groups to accomplish His purposes.
If all three of the above-mentioned groups have something to offer to their affiliates and to the unchurched, we all need to acknowledge it. Not one of these three groups is perfect, but we see no need to be part of an effort to demonize any of them. We will do our best to provide our readers with accurate, timely and relevant information about all of them and their ministries.
Finally, we want to be an agent of inclusiveness, not a propaganda tool with exclusivity as an ultimate goal. We hope a time will come when Baptists in Missouri can agree to get along, perhaps even to work together in spite of some of our differences. We choose not to be an enterprise bent on tearing down but to strive to be a ministry of building up, though that sometimes may involve offering a critical word.
Our staff and trustees have said the principle of serving all Missouri Baptists is one worth taking risks for. We believe that — in the end — that will be a course that will benefit Missouri Baptists of every stripe.
Bill Webb is editor of Word&Way.