I haven’t written about our denomination lately. It’s not that I am ashamed or think others have absolutely no interest (though I know some don’t). But I am today…
I am a third generation Southern Baptist Pastor. My son is the fourth and my daughter married one, too. I grew up attending the yearly meetings as a child. I loved it because it also doubled as our vacation. (No, I did not have to attend many meetings because it was difficult for my dad to keep me focused. There were no gadgets to speak of back in those days. 🙂 ) I attended at least one convention in Dallas growing up and I’ve attended three as an adult, including the one my wife, Kellie, and I just attended.
What hasn’t changed?
>We still make a great commotion about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)
>We still are people of the book—THE BIBLE—is our authority
>We still cooperate, especially through the funding of the Cooperative Program
>We still provide a plethora of resources for churches to accomplish their mission
>We still have a few goofy messengers go to the mic during business sessions of the annual meetings and ask goofy questions or make goofy statements. (Trust me, I’m being nice. Think of some Baptist business meetings you’ve been in before, if ever. If so, Ok, there, you got it! 🙂 )
What has changed?
~A new direction in leadership
J.D. Greear, a young dynamic Pastor serving Summit Church in Raleigh, N.C., is our new President. He was elected with an overwhelming majority vote during the meeting in Dallas. He will bring needed fresh vision and leadership. He has a track record in missions and evangelism. He has authored several books. He’s the “man” as far as I’m concerned, and I did not go to the convention planning on voting for him. My decision evolved over time and I’m very excited about the enthusiasm within our convention that has been lacking for some time. Please pray for him.
~A new direction in diversity
I have never seen so many various ethnicities represented in the convention meetings and hallways. It was exciting to see how far we’ve come as a denomination. We were once lily white! No more, my friends! Hallelujah praise the King! And various trustees that don’t look at all like me were elected to Boards, Leadership positions, and Agencies. I truly believe we’ve “turned the corner” and there will be no going back! As some of you know, racial reconciliation is a passion of mine, so, naturally, this personally impacts me in a positive way!
~A new direction for women
Southern Baptist are making an effort to be much more inclusive toward women. An example would be that Southeastern Seminary has a woman as the Chairman of Trustees. That’s a first for any of our six seminaries! And others will follow suit in time. We also passed at least one resolution concerning absolutely no tolerance for the abuse of women that has been in the news recently. It’s critical that Southern Baptists go on record that we support the biblical mandate of valuing females. I think you would have been proud of this reality at the convention during discussions on this subject. Yes, it’s a new day! And it’s time.
I believe our best days are ahead—sort of like Fifth Avenue!