Preflections on the SBC Annual Meeting

This Southern Baptist Convention will be the smallest one we have seen in years. Many will predict the end is coming. Some of us will be embarrassed by silly motions offered. After the SBC, I will create another chart that shows the percentage of young leaders (up, I hope). And, we will go back to where it all began-our local churches.

I’m not a prophet of doom, just a guy who can read a few charts. So, I thought it might be helpful to have some “preflections” rather than the normal “reflections.”

And I hope they will be with this theme: “Don’t panic.”

First, Phoenix is always a tough place if attendance is your goal. The last “lowest” attendance in recent history was, well, Phoenix. Now, I think that the attendance is important so I’m looking to see the attendance this year to have a different pattern. Hopefully having the SBC in the West will enable our churches in that part of the country to have a greater number of their messengers present.

Second, it is a good thing that people can make motions from the floor. Don’t overreact-be thankful. It is the way we do our ministry. Everyone has a chance to speak their mind and offer a solution to our challenges. If it were not for this manner of “doing business,” just imagine where we would be (think Conservative Resurgence).

Third, it is normal to consider how best to maximize our partnership. Let’s not be offended that some state conventions have different opinions than others on how best to fund our partnership. No one is against the Great Commission-they just are trying to figure out how best to fund it while we are also supporting gospel work here at home. In these challenging days of denominational entity funding, it is the opportunity to learn how other conventions are stewarding their resources. Let’s learn rather than quarrel.

Here are some reasons I think you should be encouraged.

The SBC is strong. I know it does not seem that way if you read some sources, but the reality is that we have a strong partnership. Our resourcefulness and commitment to wise use of resources creates strong partnerships between churches, associations, state conventions, and all entities.

The SBC is getting more focused. We are getting more focused every day. From the relief work done to care for those ravaged by storms to the planting work done to care for those ravaged by sin, we are focused on carrying the gospel to all people. It is a privilege to serve with those always looking for a way to sharpen our focus on the Great Commission.

The SBC is doctrinal. The Baptist Faith and Message gives us a solid confessional framework for cooperation. The BFM gives us a place on which to stand together and reach out in a myriad of ways for the gospel’s sake.

The SBC loves missions. It is, after all, why we even exist. As I’ve written, the church does not have a mission, but rather “the mission has a church.” The same goes for denominations. Our convention exists to serve churches who are in existence in turn to serve God’s mission. It is a joy to serve with so many of you who love the mission work given to the church by Christ.

So, like every year, I will be at the SBC Annual Meeting. Yes, there will always be the crazy uncle who says something odd, but he is part of the family as well. So, for another year, I will choose to be hopeful about our convention and, as best I can be, helpful to her churches. Because that’s what we do.

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  7Comments

  1. Robert   •  

    A well balanced article.

    I don’t go to the annual convention because it isn’t a good use of my time. Everything is established before hand and not much is going to change. I’m a pastor who is under the age of 40 and while I appreciate the convention in general the annual gathering doesn’t appeal to me at all.

    I wish more people would talk about how well the SBC is doing, even in light of the banter about how it is perceived otherwise. Our churches are growing. In light of the impending decline and dissolution of many mainline denominations we need to hear how and why evangelical and biblical churches are growing.

    I hope everyone enjoys their time at convention.

  2. David Burton   •  

    Looking forward to the time there. Much more than Convention Business is awaiting.
    Look for the awesome opportunities to share Jesus and the Life One can Find in HIM.
    Open doors will be everywhere. Crossover has much to offer for the Kingdom growrh prior to and during meetings. Look for opportunities, travel time, airport, taxi, car rental, hotel employees, waitress, waiters, valet workers, hotel desk, convention center employees..door folks, security, food vendors, host, etc. We should see a huge harvest if every believer attending is obedient! Let’s not let HIM down. Luke 12:12

  3. Michael Kell   •  

    I am a 33 year old and will be at the convention. The reality is that the annual meeting is one of the components necessary to effect change within the denomination. I am passionate about being Southern Baptist (because of missions & partnering with like-minded churches). If I care about the convention and the impact that my church can have through the convention then I need to be a part of the process. Moreover, I believe that the convention needs to do a better job of getting youth pastors at the annual meeting. We decry the statistics about high school students dropping out and we complain about young pastors not being there… Involving youth pastors would begin to poise the SBC to take on both of those problems (as many young pastors and church planters come from youth ministry field).
    I have been in full-time ministry for 10 years and have only missed 1 convention in that time. Have I always walked away saying, “Wow, I personally accomplished a lot” No, not necessarily. But, if there needs to be another Resurgence of Theology or Methodology to help us reach more for Christ… then I am there with my ballot to vote (or throw it at Wiley).

  4. Eric Carpenter   •  

    How much money is spent on the convention each year?

  5. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    David, I agree.

    Michael, I think it is worth being there if you can!

    Eric, I have no idea.

    Ed

  6. Louis   •  

    Ed:

    Great article.

    It is important that if churches are going to cooperate together to do ministry that some mechanism is established for keeping up with the money, having standards for what comes out of the ministries, having standards for who is employed, and for letting those who contribute have an actual say in what goes on.

    In other words, if the SBC did not exist, we would have to create it. It might have a better name, but that’s a discussion for another day.

    Have a great time in Phoenix.

    I can’t make it this year, but will be praying for the meeting and those who attend.

  7. Jim Drake   •  

    “No one is against the Great Commission-they just are trying to figure out how best to fund it while we are also supporting gospel work here at home.”
    Just a reminder–the Great Commission INCLUDES Gospel work here at home. There is no dichotomy.

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