By Staff, Baptist Message
EDITOR’S NOTE: In an effort to get to know the men who will be nominated for the position of president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, the Baptist Message continues its practice of allowing them share about themselves in a question and answer format. The Baptist Message has been apprised that Mike Walker and Waylon Bailey will be nominated at the LBC Annual Meeting and they both graciously agreed to participate in the Q & A.
Mike Walker, pastor of East Bayour Baptist Church in Lafayette,[img_assist|nid=7703|title=Mike Walker|desc=Pastor East Bayou Baptist Church Lafayette, La.|link=none|align=right|width=425|height=640]
Why have you agreed to allow
your nomination for convention president?
I have a heart to encourage pastors and challenge churches to embrace the call to reach their community with the love of Jesus.
If elected, what will be your primary
focus as convention president?
My focus would be to help churches become more effective in reaching our state with the Gospel. It is important to help churches discover ways to be more active in their own communities and encourage them to think of fresh ways to reach out to the lost and hurting around them. Business as usual in our LBC churches has not been getting the job done and progress is imperative.
What are your thoughts on the issue
of declining baptisms in our convention?
How would you address the issue?
Baptisms should be a major component of every church’s culture.Every church should feel a responsibility for seeing lives come to Jesus weekly. The Gospel has incredible life-changing power, and Louisiana churches should feel the urgency of sharing hope with a hurting world. This is done most effectively when the entire church shares the burden of seeing the baptism waters filled on a regular basis. Baptisms will increase when you prioritize them.
What percentage of undesignated receipts does your church give to the Cooperative Program? How would you approach promotion and support of the CP?
For many years East Bayou has been under strong financial pressure because of a heavy debt load. Due to this the church had to make difficult decisions with its expenditures. We went to a four-day work week for many staffers. We did not fill vacancies on our staff. Every category in our missions budgets was affected. After major sacrifices and generous members we finally paid off our church debt this summer. Now we will be able to increase our missions budget for the years ahead. Our church currently gives 1.7 percent of our budget to the Cooperative Program. Our proposed 2012 budget will see an increase to 2.2 percent.
I believe that our CP is a wonderful tool where churches come together to accomplish more than one church can do alone. I would enthusiastically encourage churches to support this ministry as strongly as they are capable of doing.
How much does your church give to what is now known as Great Commission Giving?
Our church is giving 11 percent to Great Commission Giving. Some of the ministries we invest in are the BCM in Anchorage, Alaska, several church plants, multi-site, global mission trips and an 18-year ministry in Ghana, West Africa.
Offer a brief statement about your theology, including your view of the Bible.
I believe in God’s sovereignty. I believe the Bible is completely God’s Word and inerrant. It is the owner’s manual for our life. I believe in the fundamentals of our faith and the Baptist Faith & Message. I believe it is more important for people to hear what God’s Word says than what a person thinks. I believe the only path to God is through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the way, truth and life.
There is no other way for a person to be saved. I believe Jesus was God in the flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for everyone’s sins and rose three days later from the tomb.
I believe that we have a choice to receive or reject the Gospel message and I am grateful that God wants no one to perish. I believe we have a responsibility to share the gospel with everyone and strive to fulfill the Great Commission. I believe that God so loved the world that His salvation is for whoever believes in Him, regardless of race, creed, gender, nationality or social status.
How would you describe your support
of Louisiana Baptist Convention agencies?
I have strongly supported and have been active in our LBC agencies. I served two terms as a trustee for Louisiana College. I also chaired the Louisiana College Charter Study Commission in the 1990s. I am currently serving in my second term on the LBC Executive Board. I have spoken at our LBC Evangelism Conference and at various Baptist Collegiate Ministries and student assemblies. East Bayou has worked with LBC in planting and supporting financially new LBC churches. East Bayou has assisted in training young church planter pastors and other pastors through our Innovative Pastors Network. I enthusiastically support our convention’s 2012 theme, “Awaken 2012 – It’s Time.”
Our LBC Executive Director and staff have designed a valuable path to guide us in preparation for a spiritual awakening for Louisiana.
What do you see as the greatest challenge
facing Louisiana Baptists at this time?
The greatest challenge facing Louisiana Baptists is reenergizing the declining and plateaued churches in our state. We need to work diligently in all of our churches to point the trend lines north in the areas of baptisms, discipleship, and stewardship. This can happen as each church takes this challenge personally. Revival or renewal can happen in our churches, but we must first take an honest look at where we are and ask God to help us make a greater impact.
What would you want Louisiana Baptists to know about you that hasn’t been addressed.
More than anything else I have a heart to see churches reach their communities with the love of Jesus Christ. There are so many lost and hurting people in our state. If all of our LBC churches would have a thousand in attendance we still would only be scratching the surface. Our churches must make strategic adjustments in ministry in order to effectively impact our communities. This does not mean that we change the message of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, but we must constantly work to present it in a fresh way. This should be unique to each church based on calling and community.
No single church can reach everyone. Like fishing, the bait determines the catch. The point is not to get all LBC churches using the same bait; but rather to get all LBC churches fishing effectively. Pastors cannot do this alone; they need consistent encouragement and support. I want to build pastors up and be a friend to them in what can sometimes be a lonely job.
As for me personally, I have a basic description of who I am and how I live. I want the epitaph engraved on my tombstone to say four simple words, “A Friend Of Sinners.”
By Staff, Baptist Message