N.C. Baptists, I’m looking forward to gathering with you for our annual meeting in Greensboro. Our theme this year is “On Mission Together,” which reflects our desire to unite around the Great Commission.

On the night before Jesus gave His life for us, He prayed in John 17 that His disciples would be one. Jesus’ prayer wasn’t just for His disciples in that day, but it was also for all believers for all time.

John 17:23 serves as the supporting verse for the theme of this year’s meeting. In that verse Jesus prays, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (ESV).

In this passage, Jesus prays that we would be brought into complete unity so that the world may know and believe in Christ. That’s what it means to be on mission together.

Sadly, “together” isn’t a word that I would use to describe our society these days. And as a convention of independent, autonomous churches, we have our differences as well. Those differences could refer to things such as urban or rural, coastal or mountain, or large or small.

Every church has a role to play in the kingdom of God.

While we acknowledge our differences, we are reminded that our mission unites us and brings us together. Every church has a role to play in the kingdom of God. In God’s economy, there are no small churches — only one, big Great Commission.

We do not seek after uniformity. Instead, we are after unity in the Great Commission. I look forward to celebrating what it means for us as a state convention to be a movement of churches on mission together.

We’ve got an exciting schedule planned for this year’s annual meeting that includes times of dynamic worship, inspiration, preaching, ministry reports, breakout sessions and more. My friend H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, will deliver this year’s convention sermon. I’m looking forward to hearing the message he has for us from God’s holy, inerrant and infallible Word.

We’ve also allotted some time in our schedule on Monday evening for a meet-and-greet so that you can interact with me and your state convention staff. I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, and listening and learning how we can be on mission together.

Your state convention staff want to be the first and primary ministry partner for your church or your association. I believe that our best days as a convention are ahead of us as we work together to be a movement of churches on mission together.