Friday, May 26, 2006


I was in my last year of seminary when Adrian Rogers was elected President of the SBC in 1979. I have served my whole ministry within the scope of the Conservative Resurgence.

That presidential election in 1979 marked a real shift of power in the SBC from leaning to the left to leaning toward the right. In the thirty six years following that victory, SBC conservatives have consolidated their power and their control over the agencies, boards and schools of the SBC. It is safe to say that all those entities are now strongly led by conservatives and the churches that affiliate with the SBC are for the most part more conservative than the average convention church in 1979. Although the means and the meanness sometimes was almost too much to bear or forgive, the ends have been reached and the goals accomplished.

So what are we squabbling about now? We’re squabbling now about how conservative we’re going to be for the next thirty six years. Have we moved the SBC far enough to the right or do we need to push it to the limit?

And why are we squabbling now, of all times? We’re squabbling now because we’ve realized that not all conservatives and inerrantists think alike or do church alike and differences always breeds suspicion and mistrust.

Now the what and the why of our current controversies present some very interesting dynamics especially when you couple them with a declining rate of baptisms and CP giving convention wide.

Traditionalists are accusing Calvinists of losing their enthusiasm for evangelism and Calvinists are countering that the old traditional ways of doing evangelism are not producing the results that are necessary for long term growth and health in the churches and denomination. Emerging church types in the SBC are shaking their heads and wondering how much longer they can stay and Young Leaders both Calvinistic and emergent are feeling shut out of the processes and confused because they know they’re more doctrinally oriented than many traditionalists. Career missionaries feel trapped between the bureaucracy and the churches they thought they served. Small Church pastors feel unimportant and insignificant in the shadow of the mega church pastors and the numbers hype.

We are a fractured family in desperate need of reconciliation and reformation. We need to listen to our Daddy and get it done.

Here are some suggestions that traditional SBC Leaders could quickly address.

1. If the Cooperative Program is going to survive and grow then all current Southern Baptists need to be onboard and working together toward bigger goals than simply making sure we elect the right president or that we narrow our theological parameters enough or even that we baptize a million souls. We need a new Convention Vision that is comprehensive, exciting and revolutionary.

2. The implications of the first suggestion means that there should be immediate and noticeable representation of all segments of SBC life onto committees, boards and agencies. There are three groups we need to include into decision making positions in the SBC immediately if we are going to keep the convention together. Those three groups are: SBC Calvinists, SBC Emergents, and SBC Career Missionaries. And I don’t mean just token positions that attempt to put a band aid on the problem, I’m talking meaningful positions.

3, SBC Leaders must lead Southern Baptists into revising the way we report membership statistics. Everybody who is anybody in the SBC ought to be ashamed that we report so many members when half of them never show up in any of our churches on Sunday. We simply must have integrity in reporting and a new emphasis on Church discipline of members.

4, Transparency and openness must be priority one. NO CLOSED MEETINGS unless somebody’s life or personal reputation or future is at stake, and even then it must be as a last resort. We must trust one another and be willing to share all our thoughts and conversations. Many SBC leaders would tone down their verbal attacks if they knew every other Southern Baptist was listening. And that’s the way it should be.

Conservatives won in the SBC, it’s time to get over it and move on together.


Blogger Rod said...

Transparency...I agree its top priority.

For example, if you believe you have the right to lead a convention of churches being encouraged to give 10% to the Cooperative Program while giving 0.27% to the CP, make your case. But don't duck in the shadows.

The whole issue is secrecy. Secrecy means power. Transparency will help as we create a new vision and may be the only way we hold this thing together.

5/26/2006 11:16 AM  

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