This year’s Southern Baptist Convention caused great excitement for many Southern Baptists. While a few of the usual absurdities were present, the convention showcased greater theological depth, greater passion for missions, and greater unity in diversity. I’ll offer eight highlights and some links to similar efforts.
1. The Great Commission Resurgence – Over the past several months, Pastor Johnny Hunt and Dr. Daniel Akin have led the charge for a Great Commission Resurgence amongst Southern Baptists. While their efforts have met some resistance from a number of SBC leaders, the messengers of the 2009 SBC overwhelmingly passed the Great Commission Task Force motion. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everything is settled. In fact, there is quite a long way to go! Yet, Southern Baptists have come together to show their present desire to see greater faithfulness to the Great Commission.
2. 9 Marks at 9 – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary partnered with 9 Marks to provide substantive biblical and theological discussions about various issues. Showcasing brief addresses by Pastor Mark Dever and Dr. Akin, on respective nights, followed by lively panel discussions, the 9 Marks event provided the several hundred in attendance the type of discussion not typical, but much needed, for a Southern Baptist Convention.
3. B21 Panel – This luncheon sought to provide Southern Baptists with an opportunity to listen in on a conversation between some of the most important voices in the SBC about the most pressing issues facing the SBC. B21’s Jon Akin ably moderated a panel consisting of convention employees (Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Daniel Akin, and Dr. Ed Stetzer) and Pastors (Mark Dever, David Platt, and Daniel Montgomery). The panel touched on everything from the state of preaching, to the GCR, to the significance of the ministries of our state conventions. B21 wasn’t sure if the 450 people who signed up would be willing to make the tricky drive through Louisville’s back roads, but over 600 people showed up! And the panelists’ insights made it worth the extra effort.
4. The Resolution on Adoption and Orphan Care – The acceptance of Dr. Russell Moore’s resolution by Southern Baptists points to a desire to be more faithful in caring for the fatherless. Reading better than many sermons, Dr. Moore’s resolution skillfully ties this effort to its gospel roots. Although the SBC is not known for its racial diversity, if Southern Baptists follow Dr. Moore’s leadership at this point, by God’s grace, 60 years from now, we might be.
5. Pastor’s Conference – There were a number of new faces preaching at the pastor’s conference that many found quite enjoyable. JD Greear, David Platt, Ed Stetzer, Johnny Hunt, Francis Chan, and others, preached God’s word faithfully and passionately, leaving their hearers with much to wrestle with in the following days. With the election of Pastor Kevin Ezell as the president of the Pastor’s Conference next year, Southern Baptists will undoubtedly hear great preaching next year as well.
6. Dinner with David Dockery – A couple of us at B21 were invited to have dinner with Dr. David Dockery on Sunday evening, along with about 15 other young Southern Baptists. It was a fascinating time of conversation about the gospel, the SBC, Alabama football, and much more. Dr. Dockery fielded many questions, speaking with wisdom and clarity. This dinner is worth mentioning because it exemplifies one of many gracious efforts that seasoned Southern Baptist leaders are making all across the convention. While a few whine about a lack of seats at the table, leaders like Dr. Dockery quietly and faithfully offer many young men just that, literally.
7. Johnny Hunt – Pastor Hunt’s leadership of the SBC and love for all of the various types of people that make it up is amazing. Whether preaching at the pastor’s conference, passionately advocating the GCR, sharing a few words to young leaders, personally paying for the lunches of all of the B21 Panel attendees, or whatever, Hunt’s a man worthy of great respect and admiration. Undoubtedly, the GCR resolution would not have passed if it were not for this faithful pastor’s leadership.
8. Four More Key Leaders – We are very excited, and think you should be as well, about the leadership of Dr. Daniel Akin, Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Mark Dever, and Dr. David Platt. I know, I know, there are many other key leaders. Agreed. But these four men of God were at the forefront of a number of key happenings throughout this year’s convention, steering Southern Baptists towards greater Gospel faithfulness. Dr. Akin’s sights were set on bringing about a Great Commission Resurgence, whether addressing Southern Baptists in the convention hall, at the 9 Marks event, at the Founder’s Breakfast, or at the B21 Panel. Dr. Mohler ably presented and defended the GCR motion, while also speaking candidly and powerfully at the B21 panel. Dr. Mark Dever, a voice Southern Baptists have long needed to hear, finally was given the opportunity to present his rich biblical views at the 9 Marks and B21 events. Dr. Platt preached several times, while also participating in both 9 Marks and B21 events. I wish this gifted preacher of God’s word spoke several more times!
These eight highlights give me great encouragement. Of course, there’s much to be done. Unless God’s Spirit empowers Christ’s church towards greater faithfulness to the gospel, nothing will come from this. Unless we’re able to put the advancement of the kingdom of Christ amongst the nations above self-preservation, job-preservation…idol-preservation, this year’s convention will be nothing more than a memory. And let’s not kid ourselves, it is not going to be easy. But with God’s help, fervent prayer, and honest conversations, amazing things may come about. Join with us as we pray, think, and talk about these things in the days ahead!
Here are a couple important views/arguments that we think you should interact with or be aware of starting now!
* Mark Dever asks a fascinating question about the possibility of a shift in trust in the SBC
* Ed Stetzer gives his summary of the SBC
* Thom Rainer calls for a great commission resurgence for each one of us
* Alvin Reid recaps the SBC here
* Church planter Jay Hardwick talks both of his survival and enjoyment of the SBC
* Pastor Craig Thompson talks about why he’s going to the SBC again next year
* Timmy Brister talks about his first SBC
Also, check out these stories about the convention:
* ABP’s take on the SBC
* Louisville’s Courier Journal’s perspective
* The Baptist Standard in Texas writes there summary here
My thanks go out to all the leaders in the SBC and the local pastors that have a heart for the Great Commission. After reading this and listening to Dr Mohler’s radio show there is no doubt that the SBC convention this year was awesome. I wish I could have been there. I am looking forward to times in the SBC with more commitment to missions. There is no doubt that the Lord has put me in the right denomination so that I can strengthen my walk with Christ as I go out to share the gospel with the lost. I praise God for all he has done. Thanks
Thanks for the link guys. The forum was tremendous. I am very grateful for your ministry and your vision. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help in accomplishing the vision for moving the SBC into the 21st Century with effectiveness.
Gentlemen of youth–
I am 63 and the first of the babyboomers. I began my ministry preaching like my daddy to my teddy bears. As a child I remember my first SBC in Miami. All the motions, referrals, etc. were confusing, but interesting.
Most of you have no concept of the SBC or Southern Baptist churches because you were born after 1979. You, likely, were not a Royal Ambassador as I was. I met and knew missionaries from age 10 to the present. My father pioneered Chaplaincy to the Fulton County (Atlanta) Juvenile Court and I was asked to portray the young boy in the filmstrip they shot. You might call me the “official juvenile delinquent” of the Home Mission Board. Yeah, I was on the cover of that issue and on the giant screen at Ridgecrest even as I attended doing the same ministry for the Raleigh Baptist Association and Wake County (NC).
This is all to say that for 60 years I have been as Southern Baptist as on can be. I also have a great appreciation for your position as a new minister. It is challenging and sometimes confusing, but you want to follow God’s Will for your life.
Let me encourage you to study the history of the SBC–not from a theological perspective, but from why and how they decided to get together. In a nutshell, it was to be and do the Great Commission so this is really nothing new.
The essence was to overlook individual and church differences in favor of keeping missionaries on the field. To make financial support automatic. It was great to Major on missions and Minor on Theology.
1979 changed in exactly the opposite way: to Minor on Missions and Major on Theology. If you doubt my word, take a close look at the amount of theological debate taking place before and after the SBC meeting. As long as you insist on a Gnostic approach to religion, you will miss the message of Jesus in Matt. 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8.
If the SBC is to become meaningful once again, then we must get off the political and social bandwagon and once again share Christ by word and–more importantly–action.
Jesus constantly rebuked his disciples when they fought for the left and right honor places beside him. He rebuked them for denying children access to him. He rebuked them for keeping the really needy and sick from touching the hem of his garment.
Follow Jesus, himself. Use his words and actions to cut through the way of the Pharisee. Read carefully Matthew 23 and beware the way of the Pharisee.
I pray for you success and integrity in you journey in ministry. Especially beware of lust for power, children, women, and money. Any one of these is Satan’s temptation in the Wilderness to you.
Godspeed in your journey and my prayers are with you always as you journey.
I am thankful for the steps taken at this Convention to re-examine all that we do to insure our continued fidelity to our King and His Kingdom. I hope and pray that we do not have to choose (as Mr. Scaborough implies) between Theology and Mission. We serve a God who makes it possible for us to major on both. Our Theology informs our Mission and our Mission informs our Theology.
A pastor friend, now a “worker” in N. Africa once said to me that he felt we needed many more “pastor-theologians” who thought deeply about the person of God and acted passionately to fulfill the Mission of God. May we all be men like this.
With Great Respect,
Have any of you guys noticed the name of the new conference that EV’s Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt started? (link below)
I am determined that they were just trying to one up you guys. I mean why be baptist in the 21st century when you can just be a Christian in the 21st century?
Great Job with the panel. Some groundbreaking SBC things happened there with Dr. Akin’s apology to calvinists, Dr. Mohler’s kind and encouraging words for Acts 29, David Platt’s wisdom & humility, and Dr. Mohler one upping Driscoll on using sex to get our attention 😉
I very much appreciate you taking time to give your reflections and thoughts. I have a few questions/comments concerning your response:
1. Does one have to have participated in all SBC programs to have a concept of the SBC? (Also, I was an RA and enjoyed every minute of it!). Can one who was not born before 1925 have a concept of the CP?
2. The SBC has never been about mission to the neglect of theology. We are celebrating the 150th year of SBTS, an institution centered around a confession of faith (abstract of principles) and created to train our ministers in theology in order to propogate the gospel. In the same period that we adopted a mechanism for more effective cooperation in mission (CP), we also adopted a confession of faith (BFM). Mission without theology leads to compromise and syncretism. See the article by Ed Stetzer here: http://sbclife.net/Articles/2003/02/Sla4.asp
3. Let me agree with you that the SBC needs to move passed the political and social bandwagon in favor of actually engaging our culture with the Gospel. However, as you say we need to share Christ by word and action (I don’t agree that action is more important than word, though I don’t think it is less important. Word and action cannot be separated). Sharing Christ in “word” necessitates theological pursuit. One cannot simply follow Jesus himself! Without being anchored to Jesus as revealed in the Bible we simply create Jesus in our own image (ie. the third quest for historical Jesus).
4. Thank you much for your exhortation to beware of lust for power and failing with women and money. I pray God gives me great faithfulness to my wife and that I would never do anything to destroy her, my children, my flock or the name of Christ!
well said, jon.
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Huh, just within the Catholic Church we have pgsoresrive and conservative threads. Seems the pgsoresrive do a lot of talking and protesting and the conservatives roll up the sleeves and get the hands on work done. Thing is that we still show respect for each other but know we will disagree. No one tries to change anyone.