Lunch with the President

An informal lunch with the SBC president today got me thinking about why the Southern Baptist Convention matters to me, or why it doesn’t. As the pastoral staff of the mega church I serve at gathered in the mall food court and ate our subs and “Jesus Chicken” (that’s Chic Fil-A to most people) we talked about the future of the convention. Generally I was very encouraged.

It was refreshing to hear Bryant Wright speak with conviction and passion about reaching the world for Christ, and about how we could pray for him. His prayer request: that he will stay close to God and his family.

The talk at lunch got me thinking about what it means to be a Southern Baptist. What does the SBC mean to me? If I woke up tomorrow and the SBC didn’t exist anymore, how would my life change?

I grew up in a pastor’s home. I’ve attended a Southern Baptist Church since before I was born. As long as I can remember I have heard about the cooperative program and about politics in the convention.

I believe that the single best organization for sending out missionaries is the Cooperative Program. A group of churches pooling their money can be more effective than a single church trying to send missionaries on it’s own. I believed that as I grew up and I believe it now. But how we actually do that is the subject of a lot of politics.

Last year the convention took steps to improve how we do things. The Great Commission Resurgence. I know people who think this is the best thing ever, and people who think it’s terrible. What I know is that business as usual means a continued slide into irrelevance in the world. If this movement means we are going to be more effective in making disciples, great. We have the potential to reach the world, but do we have the will?

Or will we forever be bogged down in political wrangling. Please hear me, the things people have debated in the SBC are important. I know that. Doctrine, theology, practices and polity matter. But when those things get in the way of actually making disciples we have a real problem.

I have little interest in sitting through meetings and listening to people fight. Especially when the final decisions have so little impact on my day to day ministry. I do not want to lose the heritage of the Southern Baptist Convention, or the potential of the Cooperative Program, but the autonomous nature of the convention churches doesn’t force large churches to rely on the convention to carry out the mission God has called us to.

How can the SBC mean more to me, and other ministers of my generation? Support the local work I am involved in, and help provide avenues for our local bodies to impact the world outside our immediate communities. I do not care to get involved in politics. I care about reaching the world for Christ, about making disciples. I care about helping people grow in relationship with Christ; helping them develop a passion for God, for people and to serve.