Thoughts on the 2013 SBC
This was the first Southern Baptist Convention I had attended, and I am grateful to my church for the opportunity to do so. I have several thoughts, and will list them out in bullets below.
- Attendance : The main meeting room was mostly empty, and felt cavernous. Total messenger registration topped out just over 5k, and it showed in the small crowds. The times of actually conducting business were small as well, which was disappointing to me. I think that is a valuable time to hear about what God is doing, and to join together to take stands in our culture for the Gospel of Christ. I'll save the commenting on resolutions and ideas to other blogs, but I wish more had been involved. Many other things were going on at the same time and perhaps that attributed to it.
Additionally, as a younger pastor I didn't notice very many people there my age. Much has been written about the plethora of people at other conferences compared to the SBC, but I had a different thought.
Many I have read and heard made mention of the fact that in the "old days" pastors would go to the SBC, and take their families every summer as part of the family vacation. It was a chance to hear good preaching, and to learn some things. In fact, Paige Patterson made reference that part of the reason the Conservative Resurgence was won was because the conservatives were better preachers, reaching those middle of the road people, and moving people with their oratory. I thought the preaching this year was fine, great even, but I no longer have to attend the SBC to hear the best preachers. Thanks to technology I have them with me when I work out, mow, ride in the car, etc. Not just the best living preachers either, but some of the best of all time, baptist or otherwise (gasp). I can take Lloyd-Jones with me as I mow and learn from him. If the SBC and Pastors Conference thinks great preaching will get people to come solely on that merit, I'm afraid that's not the case. They need to have another reason that will convince people to come besides what has usually been the case.
- Missions Whatever beefs I may have with Baptist's on issues, there is no greater way to co-operate together for missions than our CP. To hear Tom Ellif share his heart for the nations would stir a dead man, and you cannot help but join him in what he is leading us to. Same for local missions as well, in North America. There is a clear plan of what we are to do, and we are pursuing after it, planting churches in many major cities. I'm proud to give from our church to what Southern Baptists are doing around the world.
- Leadership I think the SBC right now has a lot of great leaders. Fred Luter does a great job leading and pointing us to Jesus. Frank Page is a great encourager and promotes the convention well. I'm most excited about Russel Moore as new head of the ERLC, as I believe he is a strong intelligent voice that is needed in our world. I appreciate that he is not interested in making the SBC a political party, but a prophetic voice in the wilderness, standing for truth in scripture.
- Rural/Small Church Support While there is a clear emphasis on planting churches, which is needed, I am disappointed at what I see as the lack of support for small and rural churches. There is resources from Lifeway, etc. But NAMB is pumping 20 million into new churches. I asked Keven Ezell directly what they were doing about rural communities. He gave a long and winding answer about going where people are, with the ultimate answer being "Nothing" They have a clear mission and that doesn't involve small rural churches. That's fine but I am unclear as to who in the denomination is doing anything about it. Due to our autonomy it can be difficult, but I dont see anyone really trying to help these churches drying up in small towns. Rural is a relative word, my town is 3500. But we and our surrounding communities need good churches and support. I believe this is a state problem as well, and I hope to do some things to address it on the state level starting soon. But I would like to see more than lip service paid to our smaller churches.
That's a few quick thoughts on the SBC 2013. I'd love to hear your thoughts if you attended, or your thoughts on the SBC overall.
I'm proud to be a Southern Baptist.