I realize I’m just one voice (and I make no claims to be a significant one), but here are some of my reflections on the Southern Baptist Convention just concluded this week in Dallas:
- We’re a hurting but hopeful denomination. We have painfully dealt with a lot of stuff over the past several months, and this SBC reflected that reality. At the same time, though, I still see life in those who love this denomination and want to see it strengthened. I see hope in older folks who want to leave a positive legacy and younger folks who want to make a genuine difference.
- We’re a denomination that needs to grieve sin more. We must deal with the realities of sin among us, but nobody has reason to celebrate when sin is confronted and addressed. Sin and fallenness—evident within each of us—should make us weep more than it seemingly does.
- We may not always like our system, but it somehow keeps us moving. I’ve always been amazed that thousands of people can gather once a year, vote on things, elect a president, elect trustees, pass resolutions, etc.—and somehow get stuff done. The system can always be improved, but it still works.
- We’re Baptists—and Baptists express their opinions. That heritage almost automatically means that we’ll have disagreements. In fact, sometimes we will strongly disagree, and we have to work continually to treat each other as brothers and sisters in disagreement.
- We cannot respond to the few who act sinfully with our own sinful anger. Frankly, I speak to myself here. In a crowd of 9,000+ dealing with issues wrapped up in emotion and personalities, it’s not surprising that some would react to issues and votes in sinful ways. I must remember, though, that the few don’t represent the many.
- We can still rally around missions. Regardless of how many important discussions we had during the day, the International Mission Board commissioning service on Tuesday night reminded us of who we are. In our mutual work, local churches of all sizes will now send 79 new missionaries to the ends of the earth—and people who will never hear about our Convention votes will hear about Jesus.
- We need to take seriously the evangelism and discipleship task force reports. I fear we increasingly equate everything with evangelism, and thus never really address our lack of evangelistic fire and corresponding declines in baptisms. At the same time, we risk doing discipleship that leads only to a passion for knowledge – not a passion for Jesus that compels us to evangelize. We must deal with (a) our tendency to allow other things to distract us from Jesus and the gospel, and (b) our bent toward discussing theology among ourselves more than telling others about the good news.
- We must pledge our prayerful support to J.D. Greear. J.D. is a friend, and I have great respect for him—but my point here is as much about his position as it is the person. We have elected him to lead us for the next year. If we elect him but don’t pray for him, we will be irresponsible Southern Baptists.
- We must continue to work at facilitating conversations between generations. Conversations are happening, but I’m not convinced they’re always strategic and intentional. J.D. and others from all generations have an opportunity to lead us in this direction.
- We must pray regularly for our Convention. Many of us have been praying as we’ve faced difficult, public issues, but we would be wrong to stop praying now. We’re a denomination of fallen people who make up fallen churches, and that simple fact means we need to pray for each other. In fact, I invite you to join me in praying intentionally for the SBC at least weekly.
Just my thoughts….