6. Election of Frank Page as the President of the EC: 2009 witnessed the announced retirement of EC President Morris Chapman who had unfortunately ended his time opposing the GCR. The SBC annual meeting saw the election of his replacement, Frank Page, a former SBC President. The EC acts on behalf of the SBC the 363 days the Southern Baptist Convention is not in session. Like Ezell, Page has been busy with restructuring the EC as well. Part of this restructuring saw the elimination of the job of VP for News Services and executive editor of Baptist Press, held by Will Hall, and consolidation from five divisions within the EC to three divisions (see article below for more on the restructuring).
Accompanying Resources: Florida Baptist Witness article on the Restructuring of EC
7. Popularity of Radical: David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills (a Southern Baptist congregation), had his book Radical reach the NY Times Best Seller list. Platt’s popularity as a preacher and proponent of international missions has grown exponentially in the SBC and in the greater evangelical world. This book details the radical life that should characterize every Christ-follower. Platt’s emphasis on international missions, care for the orphan and poor, and disciple making were certainly a catalyst for the Great Commission Resurgence. The ideas put forth in the book have begun to catch on at his church and other churches as well. It is possible that his preaching and this book may be a vehicle for a Great Commission movement among Southern Baptists and the greater evangelical world.
8. The Year in Statistics: It couldn’t be a year in review for the SBC without examining some of our numbers. The most significant number: CP giving is down. In addition, baptisms were up 2.2% from the previous year, but membership was down .42%. Many interpretations could be drawn from these numbers, so we won’t dabble in the interpretations. However, we do hope that steps will be taken in local, state and national agencies so that people can give more generously and confidently to the CP. We also hope there will be a major focus on discipling those who are baptized and regenerate church membership. It is not helpful to have an increase in baptisms but not an increase in Christ-followers.
Accompanying Resources: BP article highlighting the annual church profile statistics
9. Gospel-Centered Movement: A refocus on “Gospel-Centrality” is sweeping across denominational lines. This refocus has influenced B21 tremendously. So, we are very thankful that this appears to be taking off in the SBC. Our convention of churches has for many years struggled with legalism, moralism, preaching that aims for behavior modification, poor hermeneutics, and many other threats to the centrality of the gospel. Several examples can be mentioned to highlight that this is taking off in the SBC, such as Matt Chandler’s sermon at this past year’s SBC, the popularity of Tim Keller among SBC Preachers, and recent resolutions at the SBC that focused more on Gospel implications than petty boycotts or “pet-sin” bashing. One such example is a resolution on Gospel-Centrality passed by the messengers to this past year’s SBC (see the resolution below). It is the hope of B21 that the resolution passed by messengers of the SBC will be more than platitudes in our lives and churches and that a true movement of gospel-centrality is at work among us.
10. Focus on Adoption in the SBC: There is a new focus among Southern Baptists on the care of orphans and on adoption. This has been spurred on by many factors such as Dr. Russell Moore’s book Adopted for Life, David Platt’s Radical, and the focus on adoption by Kevin Ezell at this past year’s SBC pastor’s Conference. This focus seems to be capturing the hearts of the SBC and broader evangelicalism. This, of course, is a welcomed development.
Accompanying Resources: check out more about the adoption focus from last year’s SBC Pastors Conference and a new book to be released in April by Tony Merida and Rick Morton entitled, “Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care” (Check out some of the endorsements, including one by B21’s Jon Akin)