Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why I Am Going To Attend My First Southern Baptist Convention

I’ve been a Southern Baptist my whole life. I was educated in Southern Baptist seminaries and I now pastor a Southern Baptist church. To be honest, my opinion of much of what denominations do has not always been overly positive. Nevertheless, I have stuck with my denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention.

Southern Baptists are truly unique in the world of denominations. There is no other beast out there like us. We are really more of a voluntary “network” of churches than a denomination in the strictest sense. No one in the denomination “office” tells any SBC church how to do business. We don’t move clergy around and assign them to parishes or churches. Each and every SBC church is completely autonomous, much like non-denominational churches which are so “hot” these days. But what makes SBC churches special and I suppose a “denomination” is the network we have created. We are 45,000+ churches strong. Over 16 million members. In our past we have cooperated and networked for the cause of the Great Commission. There are many who think that focus has been lost and I suppose that is why some have chosen to abandon the network. But I think something new is on the horizon…

I have never been to one of the annual meetings of my convention but that is about to change. In fact, I think (and hope) that a lot is about to change. I will preach tomorrow morning at 10:30 am and then I will get on a plane and travel to Orlando, Florida to attend my first annual meeting of this network of churches called the Southern Baptist Convention. I have not attended in the past because, frankly, I don’t have much time in my life to waste and I don’t want to waste it on petty denominational politics. But I believe in my heart of hearts that this annual meeting of the SBC is going to be different. The focus is on a call to a Great Commission Resurgence. The winds of change are blowing, and they are blowing hard. I am excited about the future because as a pastor of one church I am excited about anything that focuses on the Great Commission.

If you are a member of an SBC church, watch and pray. If you used to be a member of an SBC church or if you are a Christian and have a negative opinion of denominations, please, pray for us. There is really only one Church. As the SBC we have an incredible network of churches. We have deep pockets of resources. Therefore we have enormous accountability. It’s time to quit focusing on internal politics and time to focus our internal resources on an external world that is lost.

I will tweeting and blogging from the convention all week and giving you my honest assessment as a first time attendee. Know that you are welcome to follow along.


Anonymous said...

jeff, you need to understand that the convention is actually the only two days the Southen Baptist Convention exists and that this is a business meeting. if you don't participate in the business meeting, then you really cannot complain about things happening in the convention as a whole. just like in your church, nobody likes these meetings but they are necessary. unfortunately, there are politics in all forms of gatherings where votes take place, whether you refer to them as petty or not. usually petty politics are those we don't favor. welcome to your first SB Convention and i hope you come with an open heart, hearing and listening to all that is said before forming the direction of your favor.

Woody Shank said...

Anonymous, I have never been to a Convention either. Probably never will. I have also never served in any capacity in Local, State or National Government. Never will. At the Convention, just as in government, people who represent me vote in my place. That doesn't preclude me from being able to applaud or criticize those votes by the whole assembly, and the Convention has certainly had some votes deserving of criticism, not all pf them are what I would consider petty. From all I have read and listened to, the failure to adopt the GCR Report will NOT be a petty decision either. Open mindedness can be a good thing, but not preparing yourself in advance - which can lead to a firm decision - is, to me, much better.