Nashville in the Rearview... Reflections on the SBC2
Just wrapped up a full week of long days at the NAMB Send Conference and the 2021 Annual Meeting of the SBC. Here are a few reflections of Nashville in the rearview. I intermingled my thoughts with language from wise and trusted fellow SBC Pastors and friends, Shane Freeman from Macedonia Baptist in Petal, MS; Alan Rogers from New Salem BC in Soddy Daisy, TN, and Jay Strother who serves The Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill, TN.
First, let me say, I left the convention very encouraged and proud to be part of the SBC. We truly are Great Commission Baptists. We were challenged, motivated, and inspired by stories of missionaries being sent, churches being planted, souls being saved.
I believe that the messengers planted a flag, yet again, with bold, yet wise statements on the matters of biblical authority, gospel priority, passion for mission…as well as focusing on greater accountability, and an end to abuse and abortion as well as addressing issues pertaining to race.
My friend Shane Freeman said it well, “It's shocking to leave an event where I experienced the love and glory of God, the unity of fellowship (with some healthy debate), and the accomplishment of biblical ministry - only to read in the media (liberal and conservative) something totally different! I'm thankful for what we accomplished at the SBC in Nashville and look forward to continuing the Great Commission work God has called us to do!”.
I appreciated Jay Strother’s take:
1. Don’t believe everything you read about the SBC, especially from big media, which always wants to make us look foolish and focuses on the few who are mean-spirited, divisive, and contentious. The SBC you see online (looking at you, too, Christian Twitter) is very different from the SBC you meet in the room. The vast majority of these messengers “in the room where it happens” are Jesus-loving, mission-minded, humble, gracious people doing good work in hard places.
2. It’s a family gathering…and we’ve got our share of “crazy uncles”.
On the inside, the SBC is one great big family reunion of pastors, professors, missionaries, creatives and a few “crazy uncles” sprinkled in for fun. For example, we reached “peak Baptist” when the discussion on a motion asking to extend the time for motions took all the time allotted for motions. You can’t make this stuff up.
3. This is the world’s largest business meeting. Its amazing with 15k voting messengers who all have equal opportunity to speak from the floor that anything meaningful can get done, but it does! There’s a bit of drama, some moments of high emotion, and unscripted humor along the way, but this crowd of people send out the largest mission force in history, run the 3rd largest disaster relief organization in the world, fund six of the world’s largest seminaries training thousands of future leaders of the church, and much, much more. Let’s hear it for the parliamentarians!
The SBC is far from perfect. It’s a big tent with lots of convictions, opinions, nuance, and history. You can read all about it over the next couple of days as all the articles come out and the hot takes are batted around on social media. But I heard and saw a desire to take the hard issues we are facing biblically and seriously. At the end of the day, most of the SBC in the room simply care deeply about locking arms to fulfill the Great Commission and finishing the task of telling the whole world about Jesus.
On the matter of race and CRT, President J.D. Greear spoke to it boldly in his address and a resolution was later passed. Here is a good recap of James Merritt’s statement from the Resolutions Committee from the convention floor.
A push against a “top down” approach from the Executive Committee and a reclaiming of the autonomy of our approach came on two separate matters. First, messengers resoundingly defeated a change to the SBC Business and Financial Plan proposed by the convention’s Executive Committee. Critics said the proposal would have granted the EC too much authority and left the six SBC seminaries in trouble with accreditors.
Also, messengers to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting overwhelmingly approved a motion calling for a task force to oversee a third-party investigation into allegations of mishandling abuse claims at the SBC Executive Committee.
Contrary to popular belief, the headquarters of the SBC isn’t in Nashville, its every local church. Pray for the SBC. Pray for wisdom for our leaders. And pray we never take our eyes off Jesus.
We are Great Commission Baptists! Lord willing, I'll see you next year in Anaheim!