Baptist21 has conducted a series of Post-SBC Reflection interviews. Up first is Pastor Tony Merida. Baptist21 is grateful for the ministry of Tony (we hope you will get to know it if you don’t) and we are very thankful for his graciousness in taking the time to answer these questions.
Bio: Tony is the teaching pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. Tony is a two-time graduate of NOBTS, with the final degree being a Ph.D in Preaching with an emphasis in Theology. Tony also spends time overseas teaching in Seminaries around the world. Previously, Tony served as senior pastor at FBC Kenner, LA and as the Dean of the Chapel at NOBTS. Tony has recently released a book entitled, “Faithful Preaching: Declaring Scripture with Responsibility, Passion, and Authenticity.” Tony has been married to his wife Kimberly for 7 years and they have adopted four children from the Ukraine.
What drew you to this year’s meeting?
- Above all, the GCR vote. I thought it was the most important matter at our convention in a long time. And I wanted to show my support. And I wanted to hear the debate. Good people were involved on both sides, and I wanted to listen and observe and cast my vote.
- Secondly, the Pastors Conference line-up and the adoption initiative. I was excited to see the number of younger pastors preaching (many that I podcast personally). But I also loved hearing from seasoned preachers as well. As for the adoption initiative, I wasn’t disappointed. It was awesome. Rus’ sermon was powerful and the financial response was encouraging. Ezell and Scroggins provided wonderful leadership.
- Thirdly, relationships always draw me to the convention. I loved visiting with old friends like Platt and our mentor Jim Shaddix. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting newer friends the past few years, and it was great to see them, also. I made new friends this year, as well. I met experienced leaders and young leaders. These friendships are gifts of God’s grace. Many pastors around the world are isolated and lonely, and I’m grateful to have good friends who love the Gospel and the church and Jesus’ global mission.
- Fourthly, I loved the panel discussion at B21 and 9Marks. I also loved the SENDNYC discussion and hearing what Coe and others are doing in New York and how we can get involved. I love church planting and love hearing what God is doing through these guys who are on the front lines.
- Finally, the location drew me (and my wife and four kids!). The convention was a blessing and then going to Disney World with my kids (who had never been to a theme park) was a tremendous joy.
What were the highlights of the annual meeting to you?
- The GCR discussion was a highlight. I loved that we were discussing very important matters. And the thunder in the background provided an extra bonus feature. I’ll never forget being in that room on that day.
- I was edified by Mahaney’s sermon in a rich way. I also was blessed by Akin’s sermon.
- The panels at 9Marks and B21 were very encouraging, along with talking to those in attendance.
- I attended the SEBTS alumni luncheon with my wife (a grad). It was great to hear Johnny Hunt, a man I deeply respect and it was great to hear how SEBTS is impacting the nations.
- And again, visiting with friends throughout the convention.
Why are you Southern Baptist?
- The short story is: doctrine and mission. I adhere to the BFM 2000 wholeheartedly and I love putting our resources together for the good of the nations. I love the IMB and praise God for it.
What are your post convention thoughts about the passing of the GCR? What are next steps?
- While I’m thrilled that the vote passed, it will take a while for real change to happen. Many will still fight to preserve the status quo and will not fully implement the spirit of the GCR. Others will take it seriously. There is a great difference in vision and actually implementing something. How the vision is going to be executed is yet to be known. My prayer is that we will put the right people at IMB and NAMB and Frank Page will lead well and state conventions will act courageously and wisely.
- I really pray that NAMB will become a church-planting machine. Many young guys are going to other networks for instruction, fellowship, and support. I long for a young leader to be the president who will rally the best young leaders to go to the most unreached and underserved areas of North America to plant Gospel-centered churches. We need a catalyst. Someone who can both inspire in his preaching and execute strategic change. This is no easy task. So, may God help us.
Tony has also written some thoughts on SBC 2010 at his blog in a post entitled, “The Grace of Friendship”