Thursday, June 17, 2010

SBC Annual Meeting Recap

For those of you who couldn’t attend the convention but are interested, here is a great recap and some insight from a pastor friend of mine who summarizes the annual meeting well. I would echo his sentiments and observations for the future of our convention and the clarion call reach the unreached peoples of the world. His comments follow:

The 2010 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is over. Here are some thoughts I'm thinking:

--A big initiative called the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) was passed overwhelmingly. A high profile committee of 23 presented 8 recommendations for change to/in the SBC after an extensive and far ranging 1 year study of the SBC's agencies and systems. These recs are meant to refocus the SBC on the GC after a 10-plus year lack of focus on the GC.

Time will tell if our churches have truly recommitted themselves to the GC. It will be reflected in international missions giving and going as well as church planting and revitalization here in the States. It will be reflected in the reallocation of monies in our 41 state conventions. Currently, only 2.5% of SBC money makes it overseas to 95% of the world's population. Most of the money gets kept in our state conventions which too often try to substitute for the work of the local church instead of supplementing it. I'm thankful our state convention, the SBTC, does the latter.

--The GCR debate over the past year has demonstrated there are at least two distinct camps in the SBC. My prayer is that we aren't divided over whether the SBC is broken in many ways, but rather over the solution to the problem. The fact that the SBC needs an overhaul is clear: we have had declining #s of CP giving and baptisms for years, we can't hit our missions offering goals, and we can't afford all of our current missionaries, never mind sending new ones to the field. We need change.

--The passing of the GCR rocks at least expanded the pool of top tier SBC leadership, if it didn't usher in new leadership. Most opposition to the GCR came from the SBC's old guard, with notable exceptions, and opposition was strong. Thus, the overwhelming approval of the GCR means SBCers are listening to new voices. Men like Johnny Hunt, Danny Akin, and Al Mohler are now the official visible leaders of the SBC.

New systems, emphases, and leadership in no way devalue the success and victories of the recent past. In fact, the leadership of today is only possible because of the conservative resurgence. If this new leadership is wise, they will take heavily into consideration the wisdom and input of leaders from the conservative resurgence. They may be aging, but their wisdom and perspective are like precious jewels. As well, I hope the new leadership is like a wise successor to a long tenured pastor and regularly provide public affirmation and value to those who have made the SBC the incredible denomination it is today.

--Southeastern Seminary announced a formal intern program with local church partners across the country to give students field experience. Students can earn 3-15 hours of credit. The vision is for 100 partnering churches. The lack of apprenticeships are the biggest weakness in the SBC's system of training future ministers. This is really close to my heart and the announcement has me pumped.

--The SBC has launched a program to financially help ministers adopt children. This is a great move. If ministers adopt, many people in the churches will adopt. Adoption is an incredible picture of what the Father has done for us. Talk about painting a picture of God for the watching world!

--The SBC passed a resolution on divorce. As divorce becomes more common in our churches, pastors are addressing it less and less. The SBC churches resolved to continue to teach what the bible says about divorce and marry only those who meet the biblical guidelines for marriage. SBC churches must remain a people of the bible.

--The oil spill, the biggest nature related disaster in US history, spurred a resolution on our responsibility to steward nature well. Drilling for oil is fine and good as God has given us dominion over nature. However, the Scriptures define how we should steward our dominion and the SBC took a step toward defining it.

--The new CEO of the SBC was elected with a majority vote of less than 60%. I'm not sure I know any pastor who would accept a call to a church in peaceful times on such a small majority, so the new CEO's acceptance of a call of this nature has me concerned. Nonetheless, it's a done deal and I think Frank Page should be given the opportunity to prove he can do the job well. I pray for him to have great success.

--Attendance at our 6 seminaries is really strong which is a good sign, especially for our future.

To be sure, our SBC is in need of some changes, but she is a huge vessel and it takes time to turn around an aircraft carrier. The new de facto leaders, the passing of the GCR, the enrollment #s in our seminaries, and other signs of life are evidence that a course correction has begun. It may take time to see, but I truly believe a recalibration of the SBC is beginning. I'm optimistic about the future of the SBC and by the grace of God, we will see great years of harvest in the years to come.”

Ralph Green

Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

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