My Thoughts on the SBC Name Change

There has been much discussion this week centered on the SBC name change recommendation that was brought to the Executive Committee this week. I support the recommendation and have posted an article on my personal site addressing both the reason I believe in the name change and three needs that now face the convention in light of the proposal.

Here are a few excerpts from the post:

…[T]he new name isn’t the only–nor the most important–change needed. I’m speaking in Australia this month so I missed the SBC meeting, but I understand Frank Page, Jimmy Draper, and others mentioned this very truth. Changing the name of the convention is useless if the people of the convention do not change as well. The key issue is not a name change, but a heart change. You can’t change your name to fix your bad reputation–you must change your actions instead.

My guess is, over time, more SBC churches and organizations will begin using the name Great Commission Baptists, but this is the right decision for now. The convention has had enough organizational change for a while–it needs to recover for a bit and focus on some relational things while the organizational things settle. I sure hope we can avoid another task force, blue ribbon reorganization panel, or new idea for a while–I’ve got some old ideas I suggest we address instead.

I believe there are three needs facing the Southern Baptist Convention currently that new resurgences, name changes, and study groups can’t fix.

…First is a need to stop bickering and infighting. My fear is the proposed name change will drive an even deeper wedge in an already wide rift between different SBC factions. I can tell you it is an amazing thing to see just how much Baptists like to fight. You could name yourself an Egyptian hieroglyph and say you are “the Baptist denomination formally known as Southern.” But if you are mean-spirited, you just have to change the name again in a few years. And, yet, that fighting and bickering continues…

…Secondly, we must work together to promote cooperation. We are a convention that needs to work in a unified manner toward a unified goal: that the world might know Christ, and God be glorified through that. We must act like a convention, not a bunch of small constituencies that want to get their own way. Only after we understand that the goal is bigger than us, our groups, and our views will we be able to unify for Great Commission work…

…Finally, we need to keep the goal in sight. The new moniker, “Great Commission Baptists,” does that. If nothing else, every time we think of our additional name, we will be reminded of what we should be doing. Clinging solely to our legal name, Southern Baptist Convention, would have worked functionally, but GCB speaks to our DNA. We don’t need to be primarily “Southern” or “conventional,” but a group of churches on mission. Our goal is to be about the task for which Jesus called us…

…So, Southern Baptists, let us act like Great Commission Baptists–that will both help fix the reputation of the old name and build a good reputation for the new “nickname.”

You can view the full article here.

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  1. Eric   •  

    Here is the only thing I don’t get about all this – Dr. Draper came out and said that of course it won’t be required because nothing is forced on SBC churches (my paraphrase, though I can find exact quote if needed) – if so, what was the point? How does it not create division? Why spend the time and resources necessary to study a name change that may or may not matter? Isn’t this the kind of bureaucracy the GCR was supposed to be getting rid of? Not wanting to contentious or just fight, I just don’t get it.

  2. Jay Bailey   •  

    It is not required because we are autonomous churches which means we cooperate and are not coerced. I believe in the autonomy within our convention but I think we need to be the denomination that leads by loving each other as well as being orthodox. Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is and I’m paraphrasing Love God above all things and the second one is like it love your neighbor as yourself. That my friends is where we live and even if we disagree we need to remember that so we can be salt and light to those who we need to convince. We have far to long separated ourselves and cut others off and we need to love those whom we disagree over to orthodoxy. I am no theologian nor have delusions of such but I have lived long enough to recognize those who wash others feet and are servants like our Lord and how effective it is to show concern for others because you love God and people.

  3. Pingback: Southern Baptist Name Change « Evangelosophy

  4. Eric   •  

    Jay, I am probably just being slow this morning, but are you suggesting the name change makes us more loving? Or are you saying that the loving thing to do would be to avoid contention and just change the name? I really don’t care about the name. I just don’t get the name change – when we know that due to our autonomy we probably won’t have everyone due it. Ironically, Stetzer says in this very article that his church is not going to change their name initially, though he seems to believe the rest of us should be in favor of the name change. I agree with his assessment that changing our name does not address the real issues.

  5. Eric   •  

    just re-read the article and it is not fair of me to say he is in favor of the rest of us being in favor of the name change. I was mistaken in that comment. Sorry.

  6. Dave Millar   •  

    To override the will of the messengers is wrong! We have spoken and we do not want this change.

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