Traditional, Contemporary, and the Future of the SBC

In a handwritten note dated May 1897, Mark Twain once said, “… this report of my death was an exaggeration.” Today, the reports of the death of the traditional church dominance of the SBC are being greatly exaggerated by some in SBC life.

I recently heard that traditional Southern Baptists are being marginalized and cast aside by the new and contemporary. And, to be honest, I’m fascinated that a few people really seem to believe this-and that I am even writing an article about it!

Part of the concern is the 2011 SBC Pastors’ Conference. The idea here, it appears, is that the contemporary, Reformed, and methodologically progressive wings have now taken over and forced out the traditional voices. That would be a fascinating argument if it were not for the facts.

I have attended both SBC and state convention Pastors’ Conferences for over a decade. I have gratefully listened to a wonderful “who’s who” of voices that predominantly swim in the traditional stream of our convention. And, regrettably, it has not been unusual that I have heard contemporary church pastors besmirched in these events (i.e., critical references to “Hawaiian shirt-wearing pastors.” and “sitting on stools instead of standing behind pulpits” come to mind).

For me, one of the most illuminating moments was a conversation I had with Hayes Wicker (2008 SBC Pastors’ Conference president). He shared that he had gone to each speaker for that year’s Pastors’ Conference to ask that there be no “drive-bys” on young, fellow Southern Baptists. It was an encouraging thing from a good man. However, at the same time I wondered, Are we really at the point where we have to ask people to not make “drive bys”? Traditional SBC churches were hardly marginalized then (or now).

Now, if you’re keeping score (as it appears some are) and you see yourself as one of those “marginalized traditional Southern Baptists,” I think you are O.K. Over the last, let’s just say, hundred years, that is 99 out of 100 (or 98.75, depending on how you count Louisville). Since the Conservative Resurgence, the annual meeting and SBCPC have been overwhelmingly led by more traditional pastors (often the same SBC pastors, several of whom have told me they are encouraged by some new faces). Now, let me add, I am thankful for those traditional voices. After all, our denomination is primarily comprised of churches that are more traditional in their make-up.

There have been exceptions to the traditional hegemony along the way. On two occasions I was asked to suggest the “safe” contemporary pastor the current president could invite. Other times, an occasional contemporary church pastor was included.

Yet, over the last twelve months, I have personally spoken at one SBC Pastors’ Conference, one Southern Baptist Convention, many state conventions meetings, one SBC entity presidential inauguration, and a few of our seminaries. I can tell you with a high level of certainty, “traditional Southern Baptists” are not being pushed aside. By simply attending these events, it is easy to see that those who label themselves as “traditional” are still well respected voices (and the majority) in our convention, the accompanying conferences, and our entities. And, the state execs that I talk to are asking how they can get more non-traditional churches and pastors involved, not the other way around. Thus, I hardly think a pastors’ conference that has some contemporary speakers is representative of the end of the hegemony of traditional Southern Baptists over the denominational structure, its conferences, and its platforms.

So why the outcry from a few dissonant voices? My thinking on this is simple. It is more likely that some who were once singing a methodological solo are struggling with being a part of the chorus. And, the future looks like a more diverse chorus.

We should all also be cognizant of the current reality that the Southern Baptist Convention looks increasingly different. It is a gathering and an expression now of old and young, of Anglo and ethnic and African-American, of traditional and contemporary. To some, those new faces are outsiders and not worthy of a hearing. To me they are cooperating Southern Baptists that are partnering together for gospel advance.

Because we are a diverse convention, there will be times when the Pastors’ Conference will look more contemporary than others. Or, I hope, it will look more ethnically diverse than in past years. Yet, at the end of the day, I think most of us really do want to hear from the diversity that the SBC has become, within our confessional consensus. Suits, ties, sandals, goatees, English, Spanish, Korean, and all the rest should be welcomed and represented as we press into the future. And, I think “one out of a hundred” conferences that “lean contemporary” is not the end of the traditional hegemony of Southern Baptist life.

My hope is that Baptist Faith & Message (2000) affirming Southern Baptists who are traditional, contemporary, or whatever, can partner together in our pastors’ conferences, our Southern Baptist Convention platforms, our Cooperative Program, and entities (and we are not there yet). But our convention platforms and entities can be reflective of the diversity that we have, centered on the gospel, expressed in a common confession, but lived out in different methodologies and different settings.

We need to talk about the different methodologies of SBC churches. But, let’s not pretend that the traditional are marginalized. That’s the wrong place to start what is the right conversation.

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  37Comments

  1. Trevin Wax   •  

    Ed,

    This is an encouraging post. I especially hope that future Pastors’ Conferences will be even more ethnically diverse. There is no substitute for worshipping the King alongside believers from different tribes, tongues, and nations. I pray that our confessional convictions will provide a unified platform large enough for all the different kinds of Southern Baptists.

  2. Alan Cross   •  

    One of the biggest problems with all of these conferences is that for the largest Protestant denomination in North America, or the world for that matter, we have about seven people that we hear from constantly. Maybe that is a simplification, but if I listed the names that repeatedly pop up over and over again, you would know what I’m talking about. If we are so diverse, why do we hear from such a small number of people. Probably two reasons: 1) those people have passed the denominational allegiance test and 2) those are the names that people will turn out to hear. But, it creates quite an echo chamber.

    Style of worship is irrelevant at this point. The focus of worship is, however. Continuing to push for methodological differences while claiming that every approach is equally biblical is a losing proposition, in my opinion. When will we actually have conversations that go beyond the pragmatic in regard to what we call evangelism and church growth? I think that we continue to assume too much when it comes to biblical fidelity and focus on style while sacrificing substance.

    I, for one, would be thrilled to hear from either a traditional/contemporary/seeker/missional/emerging pastor whose focus was on making disciples and forming a worshipping community over primarily gathering a crowd. When Jesus is the primary focus, methodology just becomes the cultural expression of the church, and not the driving factor.

  3. Bart Barber   •  

    Quote: “My thinking on this is simple. It is more likely that some who were once singing a methodological solo are struggling with being a part of the chorus.”

    Can you identify for us the non-theological, methodological-only objection that has been raised regarding any of the participants in the Pastors Conference? It would be easier to make sense of your essay if this issue were raised specifically and with attribution to sources.

    It can’t be the Trinitarian discussion that has ensued, I shouldn’t think. Nor is it likely to be the discussions about alcohol or pedobaptism. None of those items are methodological. They may be disputed items, but they are certainly theological in nature.

    So, surely your simple theory that people are objecting to the SBC Pastors Conference because they want to enforce methodological uniformity is a theory that can be supported out of the specific objections that have been raised with regard to the specific program personalities proposed for this specific year?

  4. Kevin   •  

    Not sure it could have been stated better, Ed. You’re a gift to our denomination, especially while we navigate the traditional/contemporary waters. (And I’m not sucking up)

  5. Steve Schenewerk   •  

    Thanks Ed, from an old (54 yrs old) pastor of a traditional SB church in the Northwest (i.e.what is a traditional church in the Northwest you ask…good question. The church I pastor is 25 yrs old, I’ve been here 20. Traditional here = singing a few hymns, learning some worship choruses (sp?), worship services predominately featuring preaching/teaching, and Sunday Bible study classes for preschool – adults (though we are slowly adding small group ministries beyond Sunday morning). I occasionally feel marginalized- not because of our worship style, but because of the fact we have not grown rapidly or large. I appreciate you and Rainer’s book Transformational Church- because it gives me affirmation that we are truly about kingdom business. And the kingdom is certainly bigger than Southern Baptists (in 1987 I did a paper on “ARe Southern Baptists Evangelicals” for a seminary class- GGBTS, MDiv, 1987- I argued that we are and we need to identify with a larger more diverse group of believers…the prof was not impressed…sadly…)
    Thanks
    Steve

  6. M. Burns   •  

    Bart,

    You must not have not read the same blogs I read. Lots of comments about the need for a grass roots traditional pastors conference.

    Dr. Stetzer focused on one area. Perhaps you have read Brad Whitt’s post talking about being “irrelevant.”

    I’m glad to be a voice in the SBC chorus.

  7. Shawn Whitmer   •  

    Ed,

    You mention that this seems to be about people who were used to singing a solo and are reluctant to join the chorus.

    It is noteworthy how hard it is for Christian leaders who were the Grand Marshal in last year’s parade seem to find it hard simply to join the parades of subsequent years. In their efforts to thrust themselves back to the front, they often look more like cartoon characters than Christian leaders. Perhaps that is why they are always sounding alarms about possible threats to Baptist life and why our leaders appear to be more interested in making the most of their moment in the spotlight with pomp and circumstance.

    Anyway, I think you are right on, but I think it goes deeper than that — and I thought so a few years ago when the “Joshua Convergence” met.

    I think there are a bunch of young Conservative Resurgence “foot soldiers” who are looking in disbelief at what is happening. How could this be?

    They put in their time, networked with the right people, bought the right suits, found the right mentors, and learned to do things exactly as the people they wanted to be like. And the reward they were promised was a seat at the table and a place in the spotlight. If you do everything you should with absolute loyalty, the kingmakers will let you move up in the ranks. And now, just as they were ready for their entrance into the big time, this happens and the rug is pulled out from under them. Their moment has been eclipsed by new methods and leaders.

    The best argument they can make is to warn us against non-Baptist influence within the SBC. Really, I did not realize that you lost your Baptist identity when you learn from the Evangelical Christian community. I guess if you believe that there has been a single well-worn trail from the first century church to FBC _________ you can argue that point.

    This is about more than just stars missing the spotlight. This is about people who were waiting in the wings, ready to walk onstage when someone abruptly stopped them and sent them to man the prop table for the new guy they never heard of before. This is just like my son wanting to throw a tantrum when someone else gets picked. They are shaking their heads, saying, “After all this time, it just wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

    Their whole world is turning upside down, just when it was supposed to be their moment to shine.

    Shawn

  8. Brett Pitman   •  

    Great article Ed. I for one am excited that our convention is finally starting to represent the diversity of God’s Kingdom. At the same time, I find it amusing that a conference where my dad is speaking is being branded as contemporary. Next thing you know, pigs will be flying and hell will . . . I think you get the point.

  9. Will   •  

    Dr. Stetzer,

    I really appreciate this article. Thanks for using your voice. It means a lot to guys in my position.

  10. Brian Gass   •  

    Thanks for the picture there, Brett. Bob Pitman as the face of contemporary Southern Baptist life. (I really do love Bob’s preaching but it’s hard to picture him preaching in a Hawaiian shirt :-) I imagine Steve Wilkes was counter-intuitively playing the guitar and leading us in new-fangled worship choruses in seminary classes at Mid-America before the fad had hit the “less-traditional” seminaries too. Our compartmentalizing and stereotyping often fall apart upon closer inspection. Most of us prefer not to inspect too closely though as it might mean our self-drawn circles are not as small as we had thought.

    I for one am enjoying getting to hear solid conservative preaching shared in fresh ways. I’m happy to see many of these biblical yet contemporary churches flourishing and reaching huge numbers of souls for Christ. I appreciate these churches sharing their pastors with us. I’m hopeful that we will continue to demonstrate and expand our ethnic diversity just as we have our methodological diversity in our leadership conferences. Thanks for addressing this topic-that-will-surely-result-in-grief-for-you, Ed!

  11. Scott Gordon   •  

    Ethnic diversity…it’s about time! Musical diversity…excellent! Theological diversity…not to the point of affirming historically (read that even non-Baptistically) identified heresy on our platform through speakers, worship leaders, or any other tacit affirmation of that theology.

  12. Bart Barber   •  

    M. Burns,

    I saw this blog post on Twitter. I may not read the same blogs that you do, because my blog reading days are largely behind me, as are my blog writing days. ;-)

    I did read Dr. Whitt’s post, and I did see him make some mention of methodology in the post. I do not believe, however, that it is fair to suggest that Dr. Whitt’s arguments are entirely, or even predominantly, methodological in nature. Are you suggesting that he said nothing theological whatsoever? Does one mention of methodology completely invalidate a dozen theological items mentioned?

    It is a canard-to see brothers having genuine theological differences and to give the back of your hand to one side by suggesting that their concerns are entirely superficial. Worse than that, it is a canard that gets in the way of any substantive discussions that offer any hope of consensus, or at least, reconciliation.

    I may be wrong about some of my theology. Dr. Whitt may be wrong about some of his. Ed may be wrong about some of his. You may be wrong about some of yours. I’d almost be so bold as to suggest that (fallen human beings being as we are) all of those statements are true. Blogs have, in their better days, given a forum for the exploration of those substantive differences-not a bad thing if handled correctly. But to trivialize someone else’s theological position by pulling out the broad brush and falsely branding an entire segment of an entire denomination as being hung up solely upon superficial methodology is no path toward a good solution.

  13. Ryan Abernathy   •  

    I for one am ecstatic about the line up for this year’s pastors conference. I will not be able to attend in person but will be watching online and enjoying the diversity of speakers and backgrounds. Props to Vance Pitman for putting together a PC worth watching!

  14. Keith Jones   •  

    Ed, the real folks who are marginalized in SBC life–and have been probably since 1845–are the folks from small churches. Have you ever heard a musician from a church with under 100 in attendance at ANY SBC program or pastors’ conference? A pastor from one? Even at a state convention? Yet these are the folks we expect to be “consumers” of LifeWay literature, supporters of CP, Annie, and Lottie, and to ‘adapt’ the leavings from the medium-to-large church materials…

  15. Ken   •  

    I’m afraid I have to disagree. I’ve only been attending the Pastors’ Conference for a few years, but I’ve found the music to be almost exclusively contemporary. Even when they do one of the great old hymns, they have to put a contemporary spin on it. The same holds true for our state convention.

    I have no problem with contemporary music as such. I know musical styles and tastes change with the times, and the style of worship in a local church is that church’s business. It does bother me that state and national meetings seem to be almost exclusively contemporary. I don’t think we ought to get rid of the contemporary music, but is it too much to ask that you show a little consideration to the traditionalists?

  16. John   •  

    Thanks for the post! It seems very spot on to me. And thanks for all the great work you do!

  17. davidinnashville   •  

    I think the problem is in the sound board. The volumn is absolutely absurb. I have often wondered if God is more deaf during the contemporary service than the other service.

  18. Ken   •  

    To davidinnashville: AMEN!!!

  19. MarcieinMississippi   •  

    I read this article along with the comments and many of them if not all are self serving. The job of the SBC and all Baptist churches for that matter should be “what reaches lost people”. The bible never changes, but the way it is presented must change. Some people like to sing hymns and others like praise music, but as Christians attending church each Sunday it shouldn’t be about what “we” like, instead it should be about what will help people walk in the doors of our churches who might never have entered a church in their life so that they can hear the message of Jesus Christ and possibly choose to give their life to Jesus.

  20. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    DavidInNashville,

    I know who you are. ;-) And, yes, we kept it loud. But, you were always gracious. I miss seeing you, my friend.

    All,

    Thanks for commenting… Lots of good input and much worthy of discussion. There are lots of issues, but my focus here is pretty simple. I hope we can all agree that traditional SBC churches are not marginalized. I’ve heard that a little too much lately. And, let’s agree that we need different expressions in different contexts.

    It seems some are struggling with that, but I really think we can be on mission together. We can share a common confession with diverse expressions in different contexts. And, we can cooperate even when we disagree on certain things within our confessional consensus.

    But, I am a simple man with a hope for a united, confessional, and cooperative SBC. In the coming days I will post a few more thoughts on this, but I will leave it there for now as I am in Chicago teaching this week.

    Thanks for commenting.

    God bless,

    Ed

  21. jim Millirons   •  

    WOW! Rather than hearing about the marginality or lack of inside our SBC huddle, I would love for you to speak boldly on the marginality of the North American evangelical church with the many culures and subcultures
    of NA. Whether we agree with each others methodolgy isnt the big issue, the bigger issue is are we effectively communicating the gospel in a way to reach the multiple cultures in NA?

  22. Nick Horton   •  

    Ed,

    Great piece that immediately hits home for me as I am a young-ish (31 yr old) member of a church going through mediation to resolve issues. The issues are numerous and cannot be boiled down to any one thing, but a dividing line has been between the traditional and contemporary services. Saturday was our church wide retreat to discuss our issues openly, confess our sins to each other, and forge a new way forward. As was so eloquently said on saturday by one of our “traditional” members; “Two services, one church.”

    The struggle for traditionalists to adapt to modern expressions of our timeless faith is understandable. I am sure older generations are alarmed at the erosion of morality, decency, common sense, etc that is happening in every corner of the world. Any change to what they hold most dear, their worship of God, is quite naturally worth fighting tooth and nail over. The trouble then is for me as a member of the younger generation, is to reach back to them and tell them that I confess Jesus Christ. I hold to biblical orthodoxy and biblical truth. I stand at their shoulder and hope they can pour out their experience and life lessons in to me.

    I do not do life the same way they do. I have different interests and activities. I wear different clothes. I use different colloquialisms. I listen to different music. I express my faith differently. However, I confess Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I hope that my older, mature brothers and sisters in Christ do not give up on the younger or contemporary gatherings. I hope they instead pour their love of the scriptures, their reverance for God, and their penchant for theological correctness into the next generations.

    More an open prayer than anything. Grace and peace to you all.

    Nick

  23. Ken   •  

    @Marcie: If you’ll go back and read my comment, you’ll see that it has nothing to do with how local churches worship. As I said, that’s the local church’s business. I do have a problem with the way we do almost nothing but contemporary worship at state and national meetings. As I said, I have no quarrel with contemporary worship as such, but it seems to me they could show just a LITTLE consideration to people with more traditional tastes.

    As for being “self-serving”, that charge cuts both ways. I realize it’s not about me. I just wish the proponents of contemporary worship would learn that it’s not about them, either.

  24. Pingback: One Baptist Perspective » Some Thoughts on Theological and Methodological Diversity in the SBC

  25. M. Burns   •  

    Bart,

    I couldn’t agree more, “to trivialize someone else’s theological position by pulling out the broad brush and falsely branding an entire segment of an entire denomination . . . [in anyway and about anything (theology or methodology), in fact,] is no path toward a good solution.”

    So where to start? I could note the dozen(s) of ways Brad Whitt violates your principle in this in his blog post. Or, I could engage your assertion (albeit expressed in a question) that Brad Whitt’s post mentions a dozen theological items. Since, this is truly a curious claim. I have chosen this one.

    I suppose you said this hoping that we all forgot what Brad wrote in his post, for that would be the only way this statement would be convincing. Nevertheless, it did lead me (because sometimes my memory is just not as sharp as it used to be) to question whether we read two entirely different posts. So, I returned to the original post to doublecheck.

    After I reread it, it seems like I missed it again, or those dozen theological items were not there.

    Now, let’s be honest . . .

    . . . . suggesting that some SBC leaders secretly desire to be Presbyterian is not a theological argument. Granted, it could be if in fact someone specific was named and their theological positions were discussed. But, in this case, without such a discussion, what we have is simply the sowing of seeds of doubt and suspicion towards unnamed men. That is, well, more about ethics than theology-and the wrong side of the ethical discussion.

    . . . saying, “I don’t mind wearing a coat and tie when I preach (at least on Sunday mornings), and I still love to hear a powerful or dynamic choir special. I believe in giving an invitation at the end of every service. Public invitations are still effective. The church where I serve baptized more than 100 people just last year” . . . is not theological either. This is a collection of preferences about dress and strategy, with what appear to be an oddly placed hint of boasting.

    . . . and this statement is not theological: “While the current batch of ‘young leaders’ so many reference these days appear to be weaned on non-Southern Baptists like Tim Keller and C.J. Mahaney and are taught to give rock-star status to John Piper and R.C. Sproul, I grew up loving men like Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines. Both men invested their lives in and among Southern Baptists.” Rather, this is just old school playground banter, “my heroes are more SBC than yours.”

    Again, still looking for the dozen theological items, to my dismay, I find, “Unlike the hipsters and their mentors, I’ve led the churches where I’ve served – sometimes at the expense of hiring another staff member or a building a new playground or expanding facilities – to give sacrificially through the Cooperative Program as well as to the Lottie Moon Christmas and Annie Armstrong Easter offerings.” What we find in this statement is, “surely, I have sacrificed more for the cooperative program than the people I don’t like-even those I don’t know.”

    Okay, there is a chance with the next one. Maybe, this is a theological item . . . “It’s not that we can’t and shouldn’t make changes. But everything being proposed now is presented in such a way as to sweep in this new breed that has, at best, ‘soft’ Southern Baptist convictions and commitments.” But, just what are those Southern Baptist convictions? To know if this is theological, we need to know what convictions are being referred to. Are we referring to those listed in the Baptist Faith and Message? Now, that would be concerning if our leaders were not affirming of the BFM. Or, is there another canon of SBC doctrine used here to judge SBC convictions?

    Here was his best chance. He says, “And it isn’t that I haven’t tried to understand what this new in-charge minority thinks – I read their books, listen to their messages, and peek at their blogs and tweets. It’s just that they don’t have anything in common with the context in which I minister.” Now, tell us, what theological position troubles you? When he has his chance, nothing is mentioned. Rather, he diverts to methodology. He says, “they don’t have anything in common with the context in which I minister.” Still waiting . . .

    Here is another opportunity. He says, “Their theology is different from that which I read in the Bible, and their methodology about how best to reach the world for Jesus is foreign to me as well.” So, what theological point is different from what you read in the Bible? Again, we are left with the question, with no answer. Simply, saying someone’s theology is different then what you read in the Bible is not making a theological point. It is merely using the word, “theology.” In fact, one might be saying more about their reading of the Bible than someone else’s theology. Sadly, we can’t be for sure in this case.

    I am at a loss! A dozen theological items? I have not found them. Perhaps, it was theological hidden pictures. Maybe, I needed the key to the puzzle.

    Brad’s post is more about his dismay that there are people in SBC leadership who don’t appear to him to be SBC enough for his SBC sensibilities. That is not a theological argument. That is sublimity.

    M. Burns

  26. Ken   •  

    Ed says: “I hope we can all agree that traditional SBC churches are not marginalized.”

    I don’t know what you define as “traditional churches”, but I think traditional music has indeed been marginalized at state and national meetings. In fact, it has been almost completely excluded.

    I repeat, I understand many people like this kind of music, and I don’t think it should be dropped from SBC and state convention programs. All I’m asking is that we sing a few hymns, too (and without the contemporary beat). Is that asking too much?

  27. Bart Barber   •  

    M. Burns,

    Sister or brother, if we know each other, I am not aware of it. It is not my intention to offend you, and I want to be careful here. When crossing the fence into hostile territory, one ought to make certain that everyone can see whether you’re carrying a truce flag or a weapon.

    Especially since I’ve been known to ride out with weapons before, I ought to labor harder to write diplomatically when I’m trying to be diplomatic.

    I also concede to you, having gone back to look myself, that some of Dr. Whitt’s original post jousted over some items that were not theological in nature. One has to decide whether he was exercising rhetorical flourish or whether these things are the substance of his grievance. I believe that it is the former, not the latter, case.

    I would, however, direct you to the discussion that then ensued in the comments. When he was pressed to elaborate, he spoke in terms of theological issues…

    “A very simple way to back up my claim is to simply look at the guests on this year’s SBC Pastors’ Conf. When Piper advocates/accepts (I think that is simply semantics) infant baptism and full Covenant Theology and has lay elders (which violates the BF&M which states that the officers of a Southern Baptist Church are Pastors and Deacons), when Darrin Patrick is invited with his hard line reformed theology and view on alcohol, I can’t say anything other than I have said. Those are just two instances without going into much of the young ldrs and their theology/methodology involved in the restructuring of our convention.”

    Those issues are not solely-even primarily-methodological in nature. And he didn’t even begin to touch on the Trinitarian issues that arose.

    I’m content to concede that your observations are not baseless. Are you willing to do likewise?

    There are some other items that lie somewhere between theology and methodology. A good example would be support of the Cooperative Program or support of the Southern Baptist Convention. Perhaps it isn’t precisely theological to complain when the convention lauds praise and position upon people who have in the past demonstrated little interest in the ministries of the Southern Baptist Convention. That seems to me to be the driving force behind Dr. Whitt’s post. It isn’t necessarily a theological error to be, essentially, a non-denominational megachurch that toys around with an SBC pseudo-affiliation. However, neither is it just a “methodological solo” situation in the same way that it would be trivial to fight over whether to wear a necktie or not.

    It is possible to question the wisdom and propriety of plotting a course for an enormous missionary enterprise in which we’ve decided that the opinions that matter most for us in the charting of our future are the opinions of the people who are the least committed to making that future a bright one.

    That, it seems to me, is Brad’s point.

    So, M. Burns, we can have an enormous and helpful conversation about whether Brad Whitt is right or wrong in concluding that the SBC is doing precisely that or is not. We can slice and dice his essay and his comments, and we can take a hard look at our convention and see how it stacks up to his analysis or to Ed Stetzer’s analysis or yours or mine.

    What we can’t do, I don’t think, is to crumple up what he’s written, throw it in the wastebin, and try to convince everyone that he’s just hung up on a dress code or a style of music. There’s a lot more to it than that.

    Blessings upon you. If you are a pastor, may God bless you in your ministry. Perhaps God will cross our paths someday if He hasn’t done so already. If so, may He do so in friendship.

  28. Ken   •  

    I just read my last post, and I’m not sure I was very clear in what I said. I want to stress again that I have no quarrel with contemporary worship styles as such, and I don’t think the Pastors’ Conference or the SBC should drop contemporary music from the program. I’m just saying that I’d like to see a better mix between the traditional and the contemporary. While we’re at it, why not throw in some black gospel, bluegrass, and (my personal favorite) southern gospel? That way, the programs would truly reflect who Southern Baptists are.

  29. A. Price   •  

    The more things change , the more they stay the same!

  30. A. Price   •  

    “We should all also be cognizant of the current reality that the Southern Baptist Convention looks increasingly different. It is a gathering and an expression now of old and young, of Anglo and ethnic and African-American, of traditional and contemporary. To some, those new faces are outsiders and not worthy of a hearing. To me they are cooperating Southern Baptists that are partnering together for gospel advance”.

    Brother, don’t know where you’ve been, but, as long as I have been a Christian and a Southern Baptist/participating in Conventions, we HAVE been worshiping with the folks you’ve mentioned, as ‘brothers and sisters’. Forgive me, but,these ‘younger brothers arrogance, only exceeds their ignorance!

  31. kim   •  

    Shawn,

    As I read your comment, chin on the floor, I thought of so much to say, but thought better of it. I’ll make it brief. Your comment was arrogant. It was not helpful, and didn’t lend light to the disagreements that are being discussed.

    To chalk up the concerns of Brad Whitt, and pastors like him, to being mad they’re not in the spotlight, or in your words, having to work the “prop table”, is just laziness on your part. Do you know this man? He said in his article what his concerns were. Are you saying, no that’s not it, I know really what he means?!

    Shawn, new is not always better. Respect, or at least a little compassion and love for those who have blazed the trail before you, would be nice. And you wonder why some of the older SBC folks are having a problem with the new leadership, new direction, etc. The theology and methodology differences are the primary, but this disregard, kicking to the curb anything that came before as being outdated, old-fashioned, boring, etc., is not going to make folks understand you better.

    The mantra is the culture. We have to reach out to the culture. I agree. But you know what, the whole culture is not just in their 20’s and 30’s! There are 40’s, 50’s, and beyond. When did the culture become one age group?!

    Sorry. I said I was going to be brief. I’m just broken hearted at what I’m witnessing. There is nothing new under the sun, as God’s Word tells us. These ideas and methods are not new. They were tried before you, and will be tried again. I imagine you will get more mellow, and maybe more traditional as you age. I pray those after you will not dismiss your concerns, as they push you and your ways aside…for what’s new!

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  34. Bradley   •  

    One of my questions is this. Are the current SBC greats or any other Southern Baptist leader actually concerned about personal relationships with people and with Christ, or are they trying to tout and save the “great” SBC? I jumped on that Jesus movement train in the ’70’s and my Baptist church back then grew from 160 to 600 in a little over a year. All because though we started a contemporary band, it was all about one way, Jesus! Music has never been the heart of the issue with any of the Southern Baptist churches, associations or the SBC as a whole. The problem has always been a lack of power and disconnect with those who say they were called. This of course does also include some church members. Whether the SBC wants to admit it or not, God is working through current and future David’s and Daniel’s. God is not going to wait to see if the SBC or a church is going to get “it” or not. If any SBC church wants to truly fulfill the call of God, they will not only include those with “the call”, they will allow them to lead or assist in leading.

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  37. D. Hart   •  

    God help the SBC. This Pastor’s Conference is not “Contemporary” it is EMERGENT. None of you have any idea what Emergent Church is. You need to do some research. And sorry Mr. Stetzer but I would say from reading this that you are part of the SBC’s problem. I live in the Bible Belt and it is almost impossible to find a “traditional” church. We finally found one and are looking for a music minister so probably it won’t be “traditional” much longer. I agree with everything Ken has said. Do your own research and learn what Rick Warren is really about. He has started his “Daniel Plan” and had 3 occultists at Saddleback – Dr. Oz, Dr. Amen, and Dr. Hyman. Do some research on these people. Great websites are http://www.worldviewweekend.com and http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com. Use their search engines.

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