Should the SBC change its name?

As we all know, an important announcement was made by SBC president Bryant Wright at the latest Executive Committee meeting in Nashville. Wright proposed that the SBC should explore the possibility of changing the denomination’s 166-year-old name. You can see a list of the exploratory task force members here. This has profound implications for the way we carry out Kingdom work in the United States and around the globe.

The stated reason was the belief that the name might hinder the work in non-Southern areas. Church planters and pastors in such areas largely assume that the name “Southern Baptist” is a hindrance to their work. This is not a universally held view, but in the places I served (New York and Pennsylvania) this is assumed to be true.

When I led research at the North American Mission Board, I wanted to learn more. Richie Stanley and I conducted research in 2006 asking the question, “How Do People Perceive Southern Baptists?” This is probably the most recent data, and I am sure it will be a part of the debate, but you can download the PowerPoint here. That summer the Center for Missional Research conducted a poll of 1,210 adults. Respondents were asked if their impression of Southern Baptists was very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable. Some respondents said they were not familiar with Southern Baptists and others were not sure of their impressions.

Here were some of our conclusions:

  • Overall, Southern Baptists were viewed favorably (combining very and somewhat favorable) by 57 percent of adults interviewed.
  • Southern Baptists were viewed more favorably than either Latter Day Saints (32% favorable, 32% unfavorable) or Muslims (27% favorable, 31% unfavorable) but had higher unfavorable ratings than Catholics or Methodists.
  • Two of three respondents in the South expressed a favorable opinion of Southern Baptists, compared to 1 of 2 in the East and West regions. More than 1 of 3 easterners said they were not familiar with Southern Baptists.
  • One of five respondents ages 18 to 24 expressed a “very unfavorable” impression of Southern Baptists, while another 4 percent reported a “somewhat unfavorable” opinion.
  • Middle-aged adults esteem Southern Baptists most, with 66 percent of 55- to 69-year-olds reporting a favorable impression.
  • When asked “If you were considering visiting or joining a church, would knowing that the church was Southern Baptist negatively or positively impact your decision?” only 31 percent of respondents said this knowledge would positively impact his or her decision to visit or join the church.
  • The Southern Baptist identity simply does not resonate as well with adults age 18 to 24. More than 40 percent of respondents in this group said knowing a church was Southern Baptist would negatively affect their decision to visit or join the church.

Here is an excerpt from our report five years ago:

But it also should give us pause when our denominational label causes some not to hear the gospel in our churches. Too often, the stumbling block of the cross has been replaced with the stumbling block of the church.

This study does not answer some of the questions, “why?” Are Southern Baptists seen as intolerant because they believe that God’s best for marriage is one man, one woman, and one lifetime? Are they seen as harsh because they see God’s word as inerrant? Or, are there valid reasons why they have negative perceptions of our churches? The answer is probably some of both.

Regardless, there are major concerns here, particularly for long term ministry of our Southern Baptist churches. Many churches have now removed Baptist from the name of their church in the “name” of reaching the unchurched. The data would seem to indicate that is not the best choice in all areas but may have validity in some areas and with some segments of the population.

As you can see, the two most determining factors of the perception of our denomination are age and the region of the country in which they live. Bryant Wright made a good point when he said, “With our focus on church planting, it is challenging in many parts of the country to lead churches to want to be part of a convention with such a regional name.” That resonates with data we collected years ago.

The other issue of age is more complicated than it first appears. Age is a complicated metric because a person’s chronological age is so often taken for granted when it comes to maturity, perspective, and experience. Though it is often true that “youngsters” perpetuate the stereotype, we cannot afford to ignore their insight. Thom Rainer and his son (and millennial) Jess Rainer have demonstrated that the millennial generation (birth years 1980-2000) will (and already do) yield tremendous influence.

Many are concerned about the decline of the SBC. What will the SBC’s role be in the future? Bryant Wright says, “Second, a name change could position us to maximize our effectiveness in reaching North America for Jesus Christ in the 21st century.” Fair enough.

A group will study this and bring back a report, but like most of those who have served outside of the South (New York and Pennsylvania), I tend to think he is correct. We need more data, and a study of “unchurched perceptions” is not enough. For example, what do the missions staff of state conventions outside the South think? Of course, even if every State Director of Missions and other church planting leader said, “Please change the name,” some have, regrettably, already made up their mind.

Let me add here that I am concerned about the tone of the early opposition to even asking this question. I do believe there are good reasons to keep the name SBC: stability, theological reputation, history, finances, and the amount of change we have undergone as of late. However, to say, “Regardless of how much this hurts our work in Boston, I care about my preferences in Birmingham,” is unhelpful and remarkably self-centered.

I say wait. Let the committee do its job. And, listen to the people who are there. Jimmy Draper is “Mr. Southern Baptist,” so I think he can be trusted. Paige Patterson is no pushover. Al Mohler leads THE Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Yet, I trust they will listen to those from the newer regions of our work. I know of Dr. Patterson’s love for New Hampshire– and I am glad he is on this study group.

It is easy to say, “In Texas, we know what’s best for Portland.” But, I am just crazy enough to think that Southern Baptists might want to consider their name based on their mission.

Names are for common identification in a family, but they can be a blessing if they communicate well or a bane if they are misunderstood. As a missiologist, I’m always asking, “How can we remove unnecessary barriers to engagement and understanding?” My hope is that the only stumbling block Southern Baptists would die over is the stumbling block of the cross.

Is the name “Southern Baptist” one of those barriers? In my experience, it has been, but I am not ready to say that my experience is the best way to determine the name of a denomination. In other words, though I have an opinion, I don’t know for sure. Actually, I don’t think anyone knows for sure-but that’s why you study these things. I will be praying with this committee as they think through and consider the issue in the coming days.

If the committee comes to the conclusion that the name “Southern Baptist Convention” is a hindrance, I will not be surprised and it will reflect the realities I have seen. If they don’t, I will say that God is still sovereign and churches will still be planted, people will be reached, and the gospel will be proclaimed.

I still believe that we can do more for the kingdom of God together than by doing it alone, and my hope is that our mission will matter above all.

But, for now, let’s all take a deep breath.

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  39Comments

  1. John   •  

    I have always had a high regard for Lifeway research, and if research shows that the name ‘Southern’ is a hinderance to kingdom work outside of the South, then I’m all for the change. I’v thought of World Baptist Conference, but WBC might be confused with kick boxing crowd, although we are sometimes similar. In fact, that might up the attendance at the annual meetings. Anyway, there will always be people who are resistant to any change, and we do have a great history of missions under the SBC banner, but I would prefer to worship the King and further the Kingdom rather than worship a name and just talk about the good old days.

  2. Todd Higgs   •  

    Wise words, Dr. Stetzer! As a church planter on the fringe of the traditional South, and who has worked with churches in the Midwest, I believe a name change is worthy of our consideration, but I am skeptical. To me, it seems the name “Baptist” is as much a hindrance to evangelism as the regional term “Southern.” But I’m skeptical that Southern Baptists would approve that radical of a change at this time.

    While I fully support changes that would pave the way for greater missional effectiveness, I think we need to remind ourselves that changes at the denominational level (GCR & name change) are no panacea. Individual Southern Baptists (and their churches) living on mission with an authentic love for God and love for others will do more for God’s kingdom than changing our organizational structure ever could.

  3. Brian   •  

    Thank you for the feedback. I grew up in Wyoming, served in the Navy and spent time in Washington and San Diego. I love our Southern Baptist heritage and what we have stood for over the years. However, the argument seems to be about a region. A majority of the people I witnessed to or invited to church while not living in the Bible belt didn’t have a problem with Southern, it was Baptist. The connotation has taken such a beating and seems to be more of an issue than anything.

    Personally, I’m riding the fence on the issue, I understand the concerns of both issues, but believe that the individual churches, church planters and missionaries can help allieviate alot of this issue. We consistently see churches being planted that are aligned with the SBC that do not have Baptist in the name.

  4. Dan   •  

    Change it! Evangelical Baptist Convention, World Baptist Convention, Baptist Convention of North America, etc… Just please not something that sounds like a subdivision like LifeWay or GuideStone.

  5. Patrick   •  

    Bru?

  6. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    John, I am not really sure if we know for sure…

    Todd wrote:
    “Individual Southern Baptists (and their churches) living on mission with an authentic love for God and love for others will do more for God’s kingdom than changing our organizational structure ever could.”

    Boom!

    Dan, I like LifeStone. ;-)

    Patrick, we don’t believe in any words that even sound like that.

    Ed

  7. Arthur Sido   •  

    The questions that need to be asked transcend pride or tradition. Does the name enhance or detract from the work of the Kingdom and does the name enhance or detract from unity in the Body of Christ? In both cases the name Southern Baptist does far more harm than good. The SBC is hardly alone here. We spend far too much time trying to find ways to differentiate ourselves from one another instead of actuvely seeking ways to move beyond our differences for the cause of Christ.

  8. Liz   •  

    Hmmmmmmmm….name changing usually means a business has developed a bad reputation. There’s a church where I live that has changed their name 3x. Always when they’re poor reputation has continued to follow them. They don’t change what gave them the negative rep, just the name. :)

  9. Michael   •  

    International Baptist Convention – IBC. Young people will like the change and old people will think the Convention finally took an official stance against alcohol.

  10. Cord   •  

    BACON!!! (BAptist CONvention)

  11. Josh   •  

    The first church I attended where I was sersiously introduced to the gospel was a SBC church. In the years since then I’ve had the opportunity to attend other churches and when seeking a church which is theologically sound, I typically seek out the SBC churches in my area first. I’ve come to count on solid theology coming from such a church. So, it’s not so much a name that I care about, rather it’s the foundation upon which a church is built that matters most.

    If the SBC changed its name to anything other than something which misrepresents what the denomination stands for, I’d be just fine with it. In fact, if the change helped in any way overcome some of the obstacles the SBC has faced in the area of church planting and missions, all the better. A name change can improve our PR. But, more than that, it’s the example of the members who align themselves with the SBC that speaks volumes more.

  12. Pingback: Helpful Articles on the SBC Name-Change | SBC Voices

  13. Bill Blair   •  

    Ed,

    Will changing the convention name make any practical difference given that so many churches choose not to publicize their affiliation by either omitting “Baptist” from their name and/or omitting any statements of the affiliation from their website? If we planted a SBC church in New York called Grace Church and didn’t make much of the affiliation publicly, would the term “Southern Baptist” still get in the way?

  14. davidinnashville   •  

    I am thinking of changing my name to David Buffet Mills. I think that will stop the slide of my bank account. Just saying!!

  15. Bill   •  

    Dr. Stetzer:

    Thanks for your post concerning the potential name change. I, like many that are and grew up Southern Baptist, had a knee-jerk reaction to the proposed name change that was decidedly against the proposal. While am a life-long Southern Baptist, I have had the opportunity to live in San Diego and in New York (on the north coast of Long Island). In neither place did I feel that people had a particularly low view of Southern Baptists. In fact, when I lived in New York (2005), nearly everyone that learned of my denominational affiliation stated that they had never met a Southern Baptist (certainly there is a lesson there). Nonetheless, I will defer to you and your research on this issue. If the name is an artificial stumbling block, then we should consider changing our denomination’s name.

    My concern, however, is that the cultural objection to the name “Southern Baptist” has less to do with the fact that we are traditionally Southern, and more to do with the fact that we are doctrinally Baptists. I don’t think that anyone thinks poorly of Southern Baptist because they are from the southern region of the United States. I think they think poorly of us because of our doctrinal positions which we will not change. A name change will not alter our firmly held doctrinal positions and will not change peoples’ views of us. Why would we then go through the considerable time and expense (and trust me, it will be very expensive) to change our name if it is not likely to change people’s perception about us? What I think many Southern Baptist fear is that this is another example of cultural accommodation run amok – if we can just get more people to like us, we can get them converted. Were it not for the doctrinal strength of the people on the Task Force, I would likely be inclined to believe that is what is going on in this situation.

    If there if people are ambivalent to the word “Southern” then why not change it? I think that, to people that know us, the Southern distinguishes what type of Baptists we are; and not in the regional sense. I think that the Southern distinguishes us from Free Will Baptists, Primitive Baptist, Independent Baptists, and scores of other Baptists. To someone that is informed, Southern Baptist is almost a known quantity representing someone that believes in salvation by faith alone, inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture, missions, cooperation and a host of other doctrines. Many of our Baptist brothers have similar views, but there is certainly a core set of beliefs that defines Southern Baptists. As you state, we have a “theological reputation.” While that reputation should not be our main goal, if such a reputation glorifies God, then we should not shy away from it.

    These are my initial thoughts on the matter. I hope that the process and discussion on this matter will glorify God.

    Thank you for your service to our denomination – whatever name it may have now or in the future.

    Bill

  16. Skip   •  

    Back in 1996 Gateway Baptist Church changed its name to Grace Community Church. At that time over 250 were in attendance. in 2006 I became pastor of a much declined church down to 24 in attendance. Last year we changed our name back and we have begun to grow. The complaint I heard from people in the community was our name “Community” did not tell them what we stood for where Baptist identified us with Bible believers. Most of our growth are people who used to live up north and they are glad to see we were not ashamed of being “Southern Baptist” I am not saying we should not change our name only that we do not water it down where people have no clue who we are or what we believe.

  17. Ted Elmore   •  

    Ed,

    Everyone can’t be on a committee, so I affirm those who are including some that seem to serve on most significant committees or agencies. God bless them one and all. These are good people. And they most likely have a long and tedious process and who knows what the messengers will do with whatever they recommend.

    I haven’t enough facts to say yea or nay to a name change nor do I have one to suggest. I think “Hardrock” might be good but I hear it’s taken. Somehow the “H” resonates with Holman – :).

    I appreciated your comments regarding the reasons why CCC became Cru and the possibilities of the SBC becoming whatever. But if the name change is primarily about furthering the mission, how does a name change affect the culture of an organization to the extent it is different? Unless that culture is changed how long before the new name is identified with the same issues as the former?

    Your own research shows that even outside the south Southern Baptists have a favorable image. Perhaps this is because of the impact of the local church in those areas. Perhaps those non-southern folk do not attend annual meetings, denominational meetings, committee meetings, etc. and are not “in the loop” on all things denominationally political. Perhaps it never occurred to them to have a denominational expert speak for them. Perhaps they just look at their neighbor who lives for Christ and attends one of those local Baptist churches that has the cheesy looking logo somewhere on its sign. Who knows?

    All to say that the conservative resurgence succeeded largely because it was a grass roots movement. I’m still turning over in my thought process most things that come to us top-down and will be sincerely praying for wisdom for those with this assignment.

  18. Charles   •  

    Walmart is the largest retail chain in the world. There are parts of the country–in fact, areas of most towns that resist Walmart. Good marketing sense would not tell them to change the name of the entire operation. They can, however, market themselves differently to reach out to areas that may not accept a supercenter that flies a Walmart flag out front. There are probably areas where we could not plant a superchurch with a First Southern Baptist Church lighted sign in the front parking lot, but does that mean we should rebrand the whole operation? I don’t know.

    Perhaps we can take a lesson from the restaurant formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is only KFC to the millennial generation. What if we are just SBC? sounds Bible Thumpin’ Good.

  19. Scott   •  

    Looking in from the outside (as a cheerleader for the SBC, not a hater) I can say we have had a couple of people visit the independent baptist church I work in who were from the northeast and who were very curious that all the major baptist churches in the area would be a part of an organization that, in their perceptions, would align itself solely with one region of the country, and in particular, the one region of the country first created by the civil war dividing lines. One man made the comment, “Even the Christians here are determined that the south will rise again.”

    I can’t speak intelligently of how the name effects the larger work of the Kingdom across the nation, but I know those people viewed it very negatively. I hope this commission can come to an agreeable decision that the SBC will accept and one that will accomplish greater things for the mission. I am praying for you guys.

  20. Ken   •  

    When people talk of change, I’m one who generally asks, “Why not?” Unfortunately, when asking that question regarding the SBC name change, I came up with a number of reasons why not:

    1. Southern Baptists have a long-established identity. Some of it is negative, yes, but much of it is positive. We have built some of the largest institutions in the world, and our DR people are often the first on the scene when disaster strikes. We’re also one of the few denominations that continues to stand for biblical truth. If changing our name will separate us from the negative aspects of our identity, won’t it also cause to lose the positive aspects?

    2. Changing our name will not change our past, nor will it change the public’s perception. We’ll simply be known as “the denomination formerly known as the SBC.”

    3. A name change will be expensive. With our funding as it is, and the needs in world missions, I don’t believe this would be good stewardship on our part.

    4. If a person is willing to let our denominational name come between him and Christ, you can be sure he’ll find some other excuse once we change it. Thus, a name change will not cure our current ills.

    I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone here, but I really think changing the name will do more harm than good.

  21. Pingback: First Baptist Church–Bell Gardens » Blog Archive » Name changes are popping up all over…

  22. Bart Barber   •  

    Ed, I’m just an armchair researcher, really, but I wrote a blog post over a year ago in which I came to the statistical conclusion that non-regional names have not delivered greater evangelistic success. Here’s the article:

    If Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie?

    I’m wondering whether you could help me to see the flaws in my statistical analysis. Or would I have to pay you tuition? ;-)

  23. Mike Johnson   •  

    I do not see the need in changing the name of the SBC. I feel we have many more important matters to consider than changing our name. I have lived through BYPU, Training Union, Discipleship Training and Church Training. All of the changes did not make that much of a difference in the ministry. Only cost money! For me – and my church – leave it as it is and let’s get busy winning people to Jesus…

  24. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    Bart,

    No tuition required, but that is a LONG post so you must owe me something for my time. ;-) Yet, it seems pretty well reasoned to me. I think the committee should read it.

    But, I just don’t we have enough evidence at this point to know for certain on the issue.

    Let me ask a question in reply. If 80% of the church planting and evangelism leaders in state conventions outside the South said the name was a hindrance to their outreach, would you consider changing your mind?

    That’s not a trick question, as I have not asked them. But, you are a reasonable guy who opposed the idea early, so I am interested in your thought processes.

    Ed

  25. Bart Barber   •  

    Ed,

    My early and vociferous opposition was to the procedure, not the name change itself. With regard to the name change, I would just say that I’m more of a substance guy than a style guy, and so I’m relatively unlikely to see such things as solutions to problems.

    If “changing your mind” added up to “being really convinced that this would make an enormous difference,” then the answer would probably be no. The question puts me in a position that I’d rather not be in to give an answer that I’m slightly uncomfortable giving, but you’ve asked a good, honest question and I’m willing to give an answer.

    We’ve radically changed NAMB, we’re considering a name change, and we’ve done all of this because, to be thoroughly blunt, our church planting efforts outside the South for 70 years have been a failure. In general, I place higher value on getting the opinion of somebody who has succeeded in something as to why he has succeeded than I value the opinion of somebody who has failed at something as to why he has failed. That’s for a number of reasons. In saying so, I do not AT ALL mean to portray myself as a success. I’m not likely to be featured on the cover of Facts & Trends anytime soon. So there’s no hubris there, but I stand by the general principle.

    And so, if you’re asking me whether I take as gospel the strategic insights of people heavily involved in the domestic church planting efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention, I’m afraid that the answer is no.

    Now, if, on the other hand, rather than just the say-so of those denominational employees, we’re supposing that these 80% could provide some hard evidence to support their inference-and the gold-standard for me would be somebody’s success story that turned upon a name change-then I would find that kind of evidence to be persuasive.

    I’ve typed a couple of things here that would likely be offensive to somebody somewhere. Really, I’m not going out of my way to be offensive about this. I’m trying to answer a question posed to me. I’m thankful for people who plant churches outside the South, and I know that it is a hard job. My saying that I think that you might not know the secret of success up there is like my saying that a physicist doesn’t know the proof of string theory-you’re not an imbecile; the question is hard.

  26. Ed Stetzer   •     Author

    I did not find your answer offensive– it seemed fair to me.

    It’s a tough issue.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  27. Roger Simpson   •  

    Campus Crusade for Christ changed to CRU. Hopefully, that is not a model for any possible SBC name change.

    There are good and bad points to a name change.

    I don’t think this discussion can go very far until a specific name is on the table for consideration.

  28. Sue   •  

    Whoa, is all I can say. I wish I were intelligent enough to enter into discussion about this.. but you guys are waaaay out of my league. I could so ride/straddle the fence on this, based on what Ed has said and what Bart has said. I am pretty hard core “BAPTIST” southern to be exact, but a name is a name, is a name, is a name!! Yes, I believe,the southern (written with inflection) part of our name is looked down on in most parts of the country. Uneducated, low income, poor grammer and just plain stupid is what I hear. Unfair for sure, but nevertheless how much of the grand old USA perceives the south. The Baptist doesn’t get many kuddo’s either. Doctrine is what concerns me. Changing our name isn’t or shouldn’t affect this. I don’t think it’s the name … I think it’s the doctrine… Am I wrong?

  29. Doug Miller   •  

    Ed, I understand your point so well. I was told much of the same thing when I did Praxis as a Southern Student to the suburbs of Detroit, MI. “What ever you do, don’t say you’re Southern Baptists. People will label you and you’ll have doors slammed in your face.” The first day of door-to-door surveys my partner and I found that the suggested line, “we’re in the same denomination as Billy Graham,” didn’t help. They still didn’t want to talk with us. We thought, “Let’s try telling the truth, that we are Southern Baptists.” Surprise of all surprises, it worked. God honored our being transparent and admitting our SBC connection. We had NO doors slammed in our faces. In fact, we had no doors for the rest of the summer closed to us. People were very willing to answer our questions. A hindrance? I would say SBC was not a hindrance to us in that setting. Could it be in other settings? I could see it, but probably not the hindrance that some would make it to be.

    I’m with you Ed, let the committee do its work and research, but not looking at the numbers that are already available. Let them get out on the street and wear out some shoe leather. Knock on doors across the country and ask what people think. Brand name still has some validity. If the brand name creates negative feelings and all we do is change the name, have we really done anything? On the other hand, maybe we can address the feelings people have and help them to understand our positions on various issues. Then what have we done? Corrected issues, changed misguided ideas, opened our doors to a whole generation of new souls that we can reach for Jesus.

    Do we need a name change? Could be, but let’s really find out if it is the name or society’s preconceived perceptions of our ideas and ideals. Then we can take appropriate action.

  30. John Newland   •  

    As pastor of an Indianapolis SBC church, we find ourselves having to say all the time, “Just check us out and look past our name long enough to see who we are.” Sadly, many people say, “No thanks.”

    Just last night one of our newest members said, “A Southern Baptist church was the last kind of church on my radar screen to try out.”

    Others have said, “I passed your church for years, thinking I would never go to that church.”

    We have to work that much harder to reach our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ because of a name.

  31. Mike Wells   •  

    Bart hit a bull’s eye…”A rose by any other name…”

  32. John Watkins   •  

    The question I have is, “what is a name change accomplishing if there is not a change on the inside?” We can change the name to whatever we want but the negative peception that people might have, especially the younger generation, will not change by a name being different. Their problem seems to be the inflexibility of the SBC churches to become more relevant to the society in which we live and for the continued rhetoric of what a church should be but the inaction of the people to actually be the church instead of playing church. That is their problem, not a name. We are so good as a convention to take the same old thing, reword it, put a new cover on it and call it change. I believe we need to work the organization the name represents and then the name won’t have the negative conotation that people might attatch to it.

  33. Ben Stevenson   •  

    “The stated reason was the belief that the name might hinder the work in non-Southern areas”

    A simpler solution to this perceived problem might be a greater role for more local agencies – either regional, statewide or city wide. For example, a church in Maine could advertise itself as being affiliated to the Maine Baptist Association, or the Baptist Convention of New England, or the Southern Baptist Convention, or all three, depending on what it sees as most appropriate.

  34. Sue   •  

    Well, I really don’t know how to stand on this issue. I am so not afraid of change. I welcome it! However I do believe that you need to have a small idea of the effectiveness that “change” will bring. From John Watkins post I am getting a sense that it isn’t neccessarily about doctrinal beliefs. Is this the relevance issue? What exactly do we believe will make a “Southern Baptist Church” relevant to society? Now that is what I need explained to me. Could someone be so kind.. That seems to be at the heart of the name change. Doesn’t seem to be a name change just for the sake of missional outreach. We need to reach a lost and dying world for Christ. Why do we have so much staunch objection to change, if that change does not affect our doctrine? What do we want to change besides the name? Style? content? what? Please help me understand.

  35. Bart Barber   •  

    Ben, I’ve often thought exactly the same thing. John Newland is a guy I admire, and I don’t want to do anything to harm the impact of his church. And yet, having attended there, I don’t remember the church having worn its denominational affiliation on its sleeve. Say that you’re a State Convention of Baptists in Indiana church.

    If, John, the SBC were to change its name to something else, the new name is not going to be something that helps. Nobody will know what it is. It will have no goodwill or brand recognition going for it. You might lose the negative of the name “Southern Baptist Convention,” but you’re not going to gain any positive help from “Lifestone Connective Partnerships” or whatever.

    And so, the end result is going to be, I think, that you just don’t use the national denominational name for much of anything. But isn’t that possible (indeed, in widespread practice already) without the convention’s having to change its name?

    Maybe the SBC should just form some sort of an alliance (please, without a building and a staff of 150 people) of Southern Baptists outside of the South. Those church plants could then use that name instead of SBC.

  36. Jason   •  

    John Newland said: “We have to work that much harder to reach our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ because of a name.”

    OK. But what is the specific problem with the name? Is it the word “southern” or is it the baggage that comes along with the history of the SBC? Or is it the theology/beliefs of the SBC?

    This is a deeper issue than just “they don’t like the name”.

    What is it they don’t like?

    If it is the word “southern”, fine. That is a little petty, IMO, but ok. But if it is one of the other issues, like I suspect it really is, then those beliefs/theology, and even baggage of history WILL follow the SBC into a new name.

  37. Dave in Raleigh   •  

    As always, thanks for fact based research. I’m confident the SBC label isn’t helpful in many places. That my church, and many others in the south, hide their SBC affiliation, a name change would be a logical choice to consider. But a name is just the icing. The cake would be to end the culture war. I’d vote for both changes.

  38. Jim   •  

    I believe the name issue is not Baptist or Southern but the more inclusive Southern Baptist. I have found that people believe our traditions are more important to us as Southern Baptist then Jesus. The traditions I am talking about are don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t gamble or whatever regional or local traditions that supersede doctrine. As a pastor of a church in the west, I find that I am constantly fighting against these preconceived ideas. I try to help them see that Southern Baptists are Bible believing, Mission minded and Corporative. If we are known for these then I have no problem with SBC.
    Let’s make sure that there is leadership representation on this study group that is west of the Mississippi.

  39. Pingback: forestbaptistchurch.org » SBC Name: A Thing of the Past?

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