Messengers will convene with the theme "Revive Us That We May Be One," based on John 13:34-35, at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Luter chose the theme because he believes the brotherly love that distinguishes God's disciples is the only way the convention will experience the revival it so desires. The theme passage commands Christians to love one another because such love is how the world will know that believers follow the Lord.
"We're not going to do it by just our preaching or by our singing or just by our giving, we've got to prove it through our actions that we truly love one another," Luter said. "And the way we do that is by being the disciples that God has called us to be.
"And if we ever get in one accord, I believe something can happen like happened in Acts chapter 2," Luter said. "When the New Testament church was in one accord, God did great things through the church. And that's my prayer for this convention."
The SBC would be more Christlike in fulfilling its mission if the convention were to experience greater unity, Luter said.
"I would just love for us to come together as a convention one year and say, 'You know what, we're going to put aside our petty differences and just put aside all these things that's going to separate us, and let's come together in one accord,'" Luter said. "The only way we can do that, we've got to love each other with the love of God and we've got to make the main thing the main thing and that's evangelism and discipleship. When we can do that, then I think we're on our way to being the convention that God desires for us to be."
Luter expressed excitement about the meeting location of Houston, dear to his heart because his pastorate, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, planted a congregation there to serve its displaced New Orleans members after Hurricane Katrina.
Reports showing the level of success of the 1% Cooperative Program challenge, aimed at increasing CP funding by $100 million within a year and extending the work of the North American Mission Board and the International Mission Board also will highlight the annual meeting, Luter said.
"I want to see how those funds have impacted NAMB in planting churches and strengthening other churches, how it's impacted IMB through the missions board with Dr. Elliff as far as impacting the lives of missionaries," Luter said. "So I'm excited to hear those reports, as well as the reports that will be coming from the six seminaries."
A greater turnout and more ethnic diversity among messengers also are among Luter's hopes for the meeting, and he looks forward to worship being led by Billingsley, this year's convention music director and worship pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.
1 Million Men
New Hope Publishers, a division of Woman's Missionary Union, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission are partnering with pastor Jay Dennis of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., to launch the "Join 1 Million Men in the War Against Pornography" campaign and its related resources at this year's annual meeting.
Dennis began the "Join 1 Million Men" anti-pornography movement when he realized the horrific toll pornography was taking on churches. "Churches are facing a spiritual battle against a hidden plague that is keeping many believers from fulfilling their part of God's mission," Dennis said.
The War Against Pornography will take the movement nationwide with a goal of 1 million men taking a public stand against pornography and the support of 1 million women praying for them and their families.
The campaign will be a success, Dennis said, "When men are more passionate about purity than they are about pleasure, when churches can openly discuss this, instead of sweeping it under the rug."
Continuing in the tradition of reaching out to the host city of the SBC annual meeting, the pre-convention "Crossover Houston" will offer opportunities for hundreds of volunteers to intentionally share the Gospel through block parties and door-to-door evangelism.
"The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention is working with the North American Mission Board to provide a more traditional Crossover experience," said Nathan Lorick, the SBTC's evangelism director. "This includes working with seminary students Monday through Friday, June 3-7, on going door-to-door with the Gospel. On Saturday (June 8), churches will be hosting block parties across Houston."
Also, NAMB is working with Union Baptist Association in Houston to help kick off "Loving Houston," a three-year program featuring projects such as home renovation, clean-up, demolition, outreach and prayerwalking.
First Baptist Church in Pearland is one of the churches planning a block party as part of Crossover Houston.
The block party is set to include bounce houses, rock climbing, water slides for older kids, interactive games, a petting zoo and pony rides, as well as hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and snow cones. In addition, the church band will perform from a bandstand.
"The Crossover event will allow many people to participate in a fun day when many residents' normal busy schedules would not otherwise allow them to hear or see that the Gospel can impact their lives," pastor Sonny Foraker said.
For more information, visit www.namb.net/crossover or www.sbtexas.com/crossover.
SBC smartphone app
Messengers to the annual meeting this year can stay up to date with an SBC annual meeting smartphone app, which will include more than a dozen features, including maps, alerts, the Book of Reports and the Daily Bulletin.
The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry users and can be downloaded by visiting http://m.core-apps.com/sbc2013am from a smartphone or by typing in "SBC Annual Meeting 2013" in the smartphone's app store.
-- By strengthening the pastor and his family, Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference President Gregg Matte wants to create a movement that could become the spark God uses to bring revival. Thus the theme of this year's gathering: "Launch: Taking Our Hearts, Homes, and Ministries to a Higher Place," June 9-10 at the convention center.
A ministry roundtable Sunday evening will consider the topics of leadership challenges, leading change and leading a congregation and staff. On Monday afternoon, former SBC President Bryant Wright and his wife Anne will lead a roundtable discussion on balancing family and ministry, keeping the Sabbath through rest, a pastor's personal relationship with Jesus and handling fear.
Preschool childcare for newborns through 5-year-olds will be available during the Pastors' Conference. Childcare for children ages 5 through 12 will be provided by Children's Conferences International (www.childrensconferences.com).
-- The North American Mission Board will highlight a variety of ways Southern Baptists can help penetrate lostness in North America. NAMB hopes as many as 4,000 church leaders will attend its third annual Send North America luncheon as part of this year's SBC Pastors' Conference. The noon luncheon, titled "Building Vision and Celebrating Missions in North America," will be Monday, June 10, in Hall B3.
Before the Pastors' Conference, Hispanic pastors and church leaders are invited to "Avance Hispano" June 9. The conference will celebrate SBC Hispanic ministries and is co-sponsored by NAMB, GuideStone Financial Resources, LifeWay Christian Resources and the International Mission Board.
-- Woman's Missionary Union will kick off a yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting June 9-10. Over the course of 125 years, WMU has grown from a group of women passionate about missions to a thriving international missions organization that encourages both genders and all ages to share the love of Christ and seek to make Him known. With the theme "The Story Lives On," participants will get a glimpse into 125 years of missions history through theme interpretations and interactive exhibits.
-- Ministers' wives will consider how they are uniquely called to the Gospel ministry at their annual luncheon as they focus on the theme "For the Sake of the Gospel" from 1 Corinthians 9:23.
The Ministers' Wives' Luncheon will begin at noon Tuesday, June 11, in the George Bush Grand Ballroom of the George R. Brown Convention Center with Donna Gaines of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church as the guest speaker. Advance tickets are $15 at LifeWay.com/sbcwives; $20 at the door.
-- A new strategy for Native American ministry will be the focus of the Fellowship of Native American Christians' June 10 annual meeting. They'll discuss a Bible study methodology based on the oral learning style of Native Americans, and they'll emphasize developing indigenous leaders and expanded church planting.
-- Hiring a full-time executive director, holding regional leadership conferences and helping blacks attend college and plant churches are on the agenda for the National African American Fellowship's annual meeting June 10 at the convention center.
-- The Filipino Southern Baptist Fellowship of North America will mark its 20th year as it meets Tuesday, June 11. The group, with about 220 affiliated churches in the United States and Canada, will gather for a luncheon and meeting from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Houston-area First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City, Texas, at 15002 Hillcroft
Register online at www.sbcannualmeeting.net, under the Messengers tab.
After online registration, each messenger will receive an eight-digit registration code to present at the annual meeting's Express registration lane. There, the registration code can be entered into a computer and a nametag will be printed.
The traditional registration method also is available.
Messengers wishing to propose resolutions must submit them at least 15 days prior to the annual meeting. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available at www.sbcannualmeeting.net under the Messengers tab. Resolutions may be submitted online but must be followed up by a letter of credentials from the submitter's church.
Shuttle service will be available Sunday through Wednesday to and from the convention center and select hotels noted at www.sbcannualmeeting.net, under the Housing and Travel tab. Shuttle passes are available online for $12 and onsite for $15, with service provided 3-10 p.m. Sunday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday; 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday; and 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday.
Shuttle service to and from the airport and hotels is available through SuperShuttle at a discount of $2 off one way and $4 off roundtrip; tickets must be purchased online at least 24 hours in advance of flight arrivals at www.supershuttle.com using discount code MB4UU.
Children & students
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief childcare volunteers will offer childcare for newborns through age 5 during the SBC Pastors' Conference and the annual meeting. Childcare is $25 per child for each of the events, not to exceed $45 per family per event. There is a $10 non-refundable registration fee per child.
Lunch for preschoolers will be available for $6 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Children in Action and Youth on Mission will offer activities June 11-12 for older children.
Children in Action, for children who have completed grades 1-6, will challenge children to follow God's plan with courage. Children in Action is $40 per child, along with a $10 non-refundable registration fee per child.
Youth on Mission will teach students who have completed grades 7-12 to discover they can follow God's plan with courage. Youth will begin their days at the convention center with worship before going into the community for hands-on missions work at the Mission Centers of Houston and the Houston Food Bank.
Youth on Mission is $55 per participant, along with a $10 non-refundable registration fee per student.
Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Diana Chandler, Baptist Press' staff writer, contributed to this report. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Copyright (c) 2013 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net