Texas Baptists encouraged to embrace unity and make disciples

by Lauren Sturdy on November 15, 2021 in News

Western Heritage Consultant Jason Bryant and Second Vice President Jordan Villanueva brought the messages during the Monday morning worship celebration at the 2021 Annual Meeting. The morning worship service also featured music from the Singing Men of Southeast Texas as well as soloist Keron Jackson.

Discipleship in ministry

Bryant spoke on the importance of teaching members of Texas Baptists congregations how to be disciple-makers.

“Jesus said, ‘Come follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.’” he said. “It’s not just pastors who have the responsibility to fish for people. It’s not just deacons. Every believer in Jesus Christ has the responsibility to fish for people.”

Similarly, Jesus said to “go and make disciples,” or “put on your walking boots” and walk alongside people in their spiritual journeys. Bryant encouraged churches to use the model Jesus used: personal interaction over the course of years.

Walking alongside a new believer one-on-one is an essential part of discipleship, he said.

“You can’t make a new disciple in a few weeks in a new believers class,” he said. “Jesus, over three years He poured and invested into those 12. We call ourselves people of the Book. We need to get back to making disciples the way the Book made disciples.”

Unity in the gospel

During his message, Villanueva encouraged Texas Baptists to unite in the gospel.

He spoke about the story of the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, in which a faction in the church pushed for Gentile converts to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses. Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to present this debate to the apostles and elders.

The council talked past each other rather than listening to understand. Peter stood up and addressed the assembly, saying that God makes no distinction between the Gentile and Jewish believers, “having cleansed their hearts by faith.”

“One thing we can take away from this council is that true unity doesn’t negate the fact that there’s going to be tough conversations,” Villanueva said. “Often we think to have true unity, we can’t talk about the tough issues at hand. But Peter proves that doesn’t work. By just talking past the issues, we do not reach true shalom.”

Villanueva encouraged listeners to stand in contrast to the broader culture of division in our world today.

“We need to be influencing the world,” he said. “We need to bring a culture of true unity, true shalom, true peace. That doesn’t mean we stop talking about the difficult issues, the things that make us nervous and sweat a little bit. We engage in those conversations in spiritual humility, humbly coming before each other, listening so that we will understand and bringing the good news of the gospel to these many conversations that need to take place.

“There’s opportunity in unity. There’s opportunity to show the world what it looks like to be a part of the Kingdom of God.”

Read more articles in: News, Annual Meeting

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