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.