Editor’s note: Doug Munton, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, will be nominated for First Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention when the SBC’s annual meeting convenes in St. Louis June 14.
Illinois Baptist: What lessons from your ministry in the Midwest do you think Southern Baptist pastors would benefit from, especially in transforming the prevailing culture?
Doug Munton: The power of the Holy Spirit is not limited geographically. We have found that loving God and loving people really matters. A church that is true to the Bible and that teaches that truth clearly, powerfully, and relevantly can impact the culture.
We have found that God can do things that some say can’t be done—“You can’t grow a church in the Midwest. You can’t reach old and young people. You can’t cross racial barriers.” These things are not too great for God and he is at work doing those things in churches across the Midwest.
IB: It appears that the SBC is fragmenting along lines of theology and philosophy of missions. Are you concerned about that?
Doug: I am concerned about our fragmentation. We can overcome differing views of soteriology, worship styles and other issues through love and respect. Unity in our fellowship can be a powerful tool for our mission.
I do hope we will be careful not to throw away the Cooperative Program and our cooperative mission approach. We can find ways to be more effective in our mission. But the Cooperative Program can be a great blessing to our mission work together. I want to encourage that cooperation.
IB: Are you concerned about the future of the Cooperative Program?
Doug: The effectiveness of the CP should not be taken lightly. It is why we have been able to send so many to the mission field in days gone by. It is a blessing to our seminarians. And, in Illinois, it has allowed us to cooperate together to do so much more than we could do separately here, nationally, and internationally.
IB: What about being a Southern Baptist in today’s culture challenges you and excites you?
Doug: These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. (I should use that line as the opening of a novel!) We are weaker in evangelism than ever in my lifetime. We have sent missionaries home from the IMB for lack of funds for the first time ever. But we also have young people who will sacrifice all for the cause of Christ. We are making strides in racial unity that give me encouragement for our future. And, our call for spiritual awakening is exactly what is needed at this time.
Perhaps we will see God move in our day as never before. May it be so and may our fellowship of churches seek God and his direction more fully than ever.
Munton is presently unopposed for First Vice President. The election will be held on Tuesday afternoon, June 14.