Monday, June 29, 2009

2009 Southern Baptist Convention - Final Ponderings...

Another annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is now in the history books. I provided a small amount of information related to convention on-goings while in Louisville and found that I could not do justice as the time was so short. To this end, I will now share my thoughts on the meeting and what we might expect in the future.

1. Great Commission Resurgence - I feel confident the 2009 meeting will long be remembered as the Great Commission Resurgence Convention (GCR). This was the most highlighted and talked about pre-convention issue and it also received the most attention among the messengers attending the convention. The formulation of a task force to examine the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole was the first motion made when business opened and motions were received. It was the only motion brought to the floor of the convention for discussion and subsequent vote. It passed overwhelmingly as most realize a need for getting back to the basics of what we are called to be as Southern Baptists – intentional about winning the world for Jesus Christ! So what does this mean for the future of the SBC? Truthfully, nobody is sure at this moment. The GCR task force, headed by Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd, will examine the structure of the SBC and look for areas of overlap and waste. It will report its findings and make any proposals in Orlando during the 2010 annual meeting. With the GCR being an attempt to analyze the SBC from the top down to see how Southern Baptists “can work more faithfully and effectively” together I will be very interested in seeing the outcome of the study and what proposals will be forthcoming. I will keep you posted on this important issue.

2. Attendance and Demographics – One of the great shocks of Louisville was attendance. Many thought this would be the most poorly attended annual meeting in years; however, it proved to be just the opposite. There were 8,790 registered messengers, 1,500 more than last year’s meeting in Indianapolis. As the recording secretary put it, "it was also a much younger convention." Nobody needed to tell me this as I saw young families all over the place. There were more baby strollers to dodge at this convention than at any other I have attended. With there having been talk that the SBC was in decline and younger pastors were dropping out left and right, it was a welcome sight to see the huge proportion of the convention being the 40 and under crowd. I see this as a very good sign for the future of the SBC.

3. Resolutions – There were a total of 26 resolutions submitted to the Resolution Committee for consideration. These are requests by individuals that the SBC messengers make a public statement regarding a particular issue. Some are very important while others are nothing more than the efforts of an individual to further a personal agenda. They are all examined by the Resolutions Committe with full awareness that this is where the media can oftentimes voice major criticism of the convention. The resolution that held the greatest potential for controversy was “On Racial Reconciliation and the Election of Barack Hussein Obama” which was unofficially known as “The Obama Resolution.” This resolution passed nearly unanimously as it appropriately affirmed the election of Obama as “a step toward nationwide racial reconciliation” but it heavily criticized the actions taken by him in instituting policies contrary to the Christian way of life and the Word of God. It strongly opposed Obama’s assistance to pro-abortion groups and his declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month. There were other areas where opposition against Obama’s policies was voiced and all Christians were urged to pray for him as the president and for our nation. There were other very good resolutions considered and acted upon by the messengers. These can be viewed at

4. Election of Officers – Johnny Hunt, pastor of FBC Woodstock GA, was elected to serve as president for a second term. I have long held Dr. Hunt to be one of the finest preachers in the SBC and am highly supportive of his second term as president.

5. Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth – Due to the church’s on-going stance of allowing full participation in their fellowship by practicing homosexuals, the Executive Committee recommended there be no “cooperative relationship” with Broadway Baptist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention. In essence, the church was prohibited from seating messengers and fellowship with the church and the SBC was suspended. This issue at Broadway Baptist has been a media sensation for months and the action by the SBC Executive Committee was appropriate.

6. Southern Baptist of Texas Gift – If any person wants a clear example why I am proud to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, they need look no further than Louisville. During the International Mission Board (IMB) report, Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the SBTC, provided IMB president Jerry Rankin a check for $100,000 to be applied toward the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering shortfall. This money would immediately go towards helping put more missionaries on the field around the world. The SBTC does many things to which I give my hearty approval. We are the only state convention that forwards greater than 50% of all Cooperative Program monies received in the state on to the Southern Baptist Convention to be used nationally. We have no problem stating that we believe the Bible to be the totally true and inspired, inerrant Word of God. Also, world missions is the heartbeat of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention. I am so pleased to be part of a state convention that is strongly in support of the Southern Baptist Convention, stands on Scripture as the final authority, and is doing everything it can to fulfill the Great Commission. Praise God for the SBTC and for Jim Richards’ leadership of this state convention!

Well there you have my final wrap-up of the 2009 Southern Baptist Convention. It was time well spent and I am so pleased with what God is doing among Southern Baptists. We are clearly living in uncertain and unusual times that demand all Christians pray. We, the Christ followers who comprise the Southern Baptist Convention, have been appointed by God for such a time as this and we must not fail to be used by Him to effect quantum change around the world exclusively for His glory. What an honor it is to be part of a convention that has this as its goal!

Finally, thank you for your prayers for me as I hosted the Annual Alumni and Friends banquet in my role as National Alumni President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. All went very well.

Remember, "Never yield your shield, stay in the battle!"