The level of excitement amongst Southern Baptists leading up to the 2010 SBC in Orlando was, to say the least, unusually high. With the Orlando convention in our past, we thought we’d offer a few thoughts about the things that greatly encouraged us (in no particular order).
1. The Passing of GCRTF Recommendations – Over a year and four months ago, Dr. Danny Akin preached a sermon on the “Axioms of a Great Commission Resurgence.” Since this sermon was delivered, there has been much said, prayed, written, and researched about. Although there was some disagreement, Southern Baptists overwhelmingly voted in favor of the GCRTF recommendations. The approval of these recommendations is not the last step. It is a very critical first step though.
2. Election of Bryant Wright as the President of the SBC – There were four presidential candidates that Southern Baptists had to choose from. All four were godly men with great ministry experience. Two of the candidates were for the GCRTF recommendations and two were not (although they were for the Great Commission, of course). On the second ballot, Southern Baptists elected Bryant Wright to be the President of the SBC. We are very encouraged to have a president who is fiercely committed to the Great Commission.
3. B21 Panel – With around 1300 people of all ages in attendance, many of whom had never attended the Southern Baptist Convention, and eight of the most important voices in Southern Baptist life on stage, the B21 panel took an hour or so to talk about the most important issues facing Southern Baptists today. Also, because of the great generosity of others, the attendees received 4 free books. B21 is excited that younger Southern Baptists are rallying around a vision of greater Great Commission effectiveness within the SBC instead of outside of it.
4. Pastor’s Conference – The pastors that make up the over 44,000 churches of the SBC have very different tastes when it comes to “good preaching.” Thus, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. Yet, by our estimation, Pastor Kevin Ezell, the president of this years Pastor’s Conference, did an excellent job. Placing a number of “new faces” on the preaching schedule, provided the diversity necessary to excite a wide range of Southern Baptists. We are grateful for the leadership that Pastor Ezell provided for the pastors of the SBC.
5. Meal with Dr. Rainer, Dr. Waggoner, and Dr. Moore – While there are some who whine about the lack of connection between older and younger pastors, many Southern Baptists are doing something about it. Dr. Thom Rainer and Dr. Brad Waggoner spent a good bit of time with about 12 young SBC leaders over a meal talking about the SBC, church issues, the gospel, and football. It was a great time of fellowship and conversation for the advancement of the kingdom. Also, a similar gathering was held on Sunday night with Dr. Russell Moore. These types of get-togethers are a great sign of health.
6. The Way Southern Baptists Disagreed – Southern Baptists are passionate people. They believe in the gospel and its advancement with great conviction. Yet, Southern Baptists have not always discussed the manner in which the gospel should be advanced with humility and grace. And this is no small thing. Yet, we believe that the disagreements that took place on the floor by opposing sides of the GCR were honoring to Christ. We believe that this is one of the greatest things that happened at the SBC this year and we hope it is a sign of things to come.
7. The Resolutions – Anyone can write and submit a resolution to the Resolutions Committee. This can make for some interesting resolutions. The difficult job of deciding on which resolutions should be placed before Southern Baptists belongs to the Resolutions Committee. This years chairman, Dr. Russell Moore, did an excellent job with the committee, providing resolutions that speak to being gospel-centered, the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, family worship, and the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce. We think the tone and direction that these resolutions took are a great sign of maturity on the part of Southern Baptists.
8. Johnny Hunt – It’s hard to overestimate the importance of Johnny Hunt for the kingdom in general and for Southern Baptists in particular. The unique and infectious passion for the advancement of Christ amongst the nations embodied in Johnny Hunt is amazing. God has been gracious to Southern Baptists in giving us a leader who brought together so many types of Southern Baptists for the cause of Christ. The humility and courage that characterized Johnny Hunt’s presidency will be, in our opinion, an important part of the Southern Baptist story when it is all said and done.
9. 9 Marks at 9 – 9 Marks ministries, like last year, provided an interesting and provocative discussion on two nights of the SBC. Attendees received a number of free books and refreshments each night. This is the second year that 9 Marks has had these late night sessions. Both years, these 9 Marks events have offered something unique and helpful to the many young Southern Baptists in attendance.
I agree that you can’t please everyone, but I do hope future leaders of the Pastors’ Conference will keep a couple of things in mind:
1. Much of the so-called “preaching” at the Pastors’ Conference basically consisted of lectures on church administration or plugs for the GCR report. I find it ironic that Southern Baptists fight so long and hard for the inerrancy of Scripture (as we should have done), and yet we’re seeing a decline of real biblical preaching in our churches and conferences. There were exceptions, of course (Tony Evans, Ravi Zacharias, and a couple of others). I hope Vance Pitman will place a greater emphasis on expository preaching at next year’s conference (I think his father will be an excellent choice as a speaker).
2. Years ago, younger members used to complain that there wasn’t enough music that they liked. They had a point, but now it seems we’ve moved to the other extreme. The music at this year’s conference was almost exclusively contemporary. It seems to me we should strive for some greater balance. I don’t think we should do away with the contemporary music; just show a little more consideration to us traditionalists. That’s not asking too much, is it?
I appreciate you taking time to read and respond to this post. I think Jed is correct that this year’s Pastors Conference did a great job highlighting the diversity of the SBC. Of course, you can’t please everyone and there will be disagreements about specific aspects of the event in terms of each pastor’s preferences for both preaching and music style.
However, I think some of your criticisms are unfair and are a result of what at least seems to be an anti-GCR perspective.
Your apparent dislike for the GCR has caused you to leave off mentioning a few men who did preach the Bible, just b/c they made reference to the GCR in their sermon.
I am as concerned as you are that even though we’ve fought hard for the inerrancy of scripture it hasn’t led to a revival of expository preaching in the SBC, but some of the pro-GCR guy’s on the ticket did exposit the Bible…
Here are my exact words:
“Much of the so-called ‘preaching’ at the Pastors’ Conference basically consisted of lectures on church administration or plugs for the GCR report.”
Could you please explain to me how my comments translate into an “apparent dislike for the GCR”? I had mixed emotions about the Task Force’s recommendations and still do. However, it made me more than a little defensive when speakers suggested that those who had problems with the GCR recommendations were in love with the status quo or do not care about the lost. Of course, both sides have been guilty of assigning motives. I think opponents of the GCR have been equally unfair in accusing its supporters of wanting to dismantle the Cooperative Program. Such attitudes make me wonder if Southern Baptists are really ready for a Great Commission Resurgence.
I find your comments more than a little judgmental. I want to support the GCR, but I can assure you of this: you will NOT gain my support for it by attacking my motives.
P.S. Excuse the clumsy structure of my previous post. That’s due to careless proofreading on my part!
I apologize if it seemed like I was attacking your motives. I tried to be careful with my language using words like “seems”.
The reason I mentioned what I did is because there were others who preached very biblical sermons like platt and akin and you didn’t mention them bc you were apparently upset they mentioned the gcr.