3. Theological Education. We provide, arguably, the finest theological education in the world, and we do so at manageable prices because the churches of the SBC cooperate and give to cut the cost for Southern Baptist seminarians. Indeed, the “church folk” of the SBC love to give for the training of “preacher boys,” missionaries, and all who are “called of God.” In the Postmodern age the “questions” and “challenges” to the Faith increase rapidly and it calls for trained, equipped ministers who are poised “to give an answer for the hope that is within them.” The SBC allows, through “pooled” money, an unmatched level of theological training not available to other denominations and through this means is poised to send out thousands of foot soldiers for the cause of Christ. It is our hope that this will filter into the churches and that more theological education will take place in the local church. We hope to write in our vision series (SBC21) about what we hope will be exciting new partnerships between the local church and seminaries. We believe strongly that the local church is the chosen means for mission and education. However, we do believe that because of the giving of Southern Baptists we are able to provide an unmatched level of theological education that would be difficult at the local church level and absent in most other denominations.
4. You cannot find # 1-3 anywhere else. We are compelled to be Southern Baptist because no other denomination or network does # 1-3 as well or on as large a scale. Certainly some denominations and networks do other things better, or one of these three better, but none of them combines the three like the SBC. The question we think one needs to wrestle with while deciding where to spend their energy is the question of influence and impact. Where will my service be of greatest influence (not for our own influence, but for the Glory of King Jesus) and where will my service help make the greatest impact for the fame of Christ? We think that the SBC is still the answer to that question, especially when we think in terms of a holistic picture of the mission of the church. So this is why we choose to plant our lives here.
5. Heritage. This reason may not be true of all that will read this blog, but we find it increasingly true for many that we talk with. In most cases, as in ours, Southern Baptists were the ones that first shared and taught them about the Gospel. The Southern Baptist churches have influenced many with the gospel and often times those they influence turn around and “bite the hand that feeds them” (this is not to say that there are not times to disassociate with an association or church that you believe is hindering gospel work, but these decisions should be made with great care and caution, especially in light of turning your back on a denomination that has cared for you). There is always the danger, once you have been “enlightened” with fresh truths about the gospel, to look down on your home congregation or pastor as “dumb” or elementary. But, we must be careful, especially as young men, not to turn our backs on the very ones who gave us the gospel, provided reasonably priced education, and in many cases helped us start our first church. There is much to criticize for sure, but there is also much to commend in the SBC. It is our hope to work from within the SBC while honoring those that have passed the gospel to us. In our heritage there are indeed giants that we have come from; this heritage includes men like Broadus, Boyce, Carroll, Lee, Criswell, Rogers, and countless other lay men and women whose names we may never know till “New Creation.”
6. Potential. Based on all of the previous reasons, one main reason we remain Southern Baptist is because of the great potential in the SBC. We believe, and our vision series (“SBC21”) will cover this in detail, that there needs to be changes made in the SBC. We know we are not perfect, but if we will cooperate together the impact could be enormous. We could support even more missionaries and church planters in frontier territories. We could create and maintain an even more dynamic national church planting network. We could do mercy ministries and service on an amazing scale. We could continue to provide theological education at reduced rates and send out thousands of foot soldiers for Christ. This excites us, and for this to happen we need men to get involved and stick it out in the convention, even though there will be certain items in the convention with which you disagree. The changes that need to be made to make us even more effective will not happen if all those who seek change go somewhere else.
We want to end with what was said earlier about the SBC having the largest mission-sending force in history. In our opinion, this is the most exciting thing about being Southern Baptist. We hope that this, along with the other arguments we provide above, will compel you. As Bruce Ashford has said, “It has never been easier than it is right now with the IMB and the Southern Baptist Convention to get the gospel to the ends of the earth.” Think about that statement, and as you do, we pray that you will also be compelled to join and remain in this cooperation of churches that are doing great things for the fame of Christ. So, “Why am I a Southern Baptist?” We all will live one (short) life in service to the King, and in terms of impact, we believe that there is no place better-equipped to turn the world upside down for Christ than the SBC. Within the SBC we have the opportunity to cooperate together with a multitude of biblically like-minded brothers and sisters in the tasks of training more ministers, planting more churches, and sending an army of missionaries all around the planet. If you are not yet a part of the SBC, we hope you will consider partnering with us for the glory of Christ! If you have been a part of the SBC but have considering leaving for one reason or another, we hope that what has been said above will give you pause. We hope you will decide that the SBC, with all its problems and deficiencies, is still the answer to the question, “Where will my service help make the greatest impact for the fame of Christ?”
Nathan and Jon Akin