Baptist21 concludes its series of post-SBC reflection interviews with first time SBC attendee Bryan Barley. Bryan is a Baptist21 contributor and the Church Planting Resident at the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Bryan is preparing to plant the Soma church in Denver, Colorado in January 2011. Check out the Soma Church website and find ways to support the work they will undertake in the city of Denver.
Part one of this Series, Pastor Tony Merida
Part two of this Series, SBTS Director of Alumni Relations Ben Dockery
Give us your impressions of your first convention, what did you like? What did you dislike? What was interesting?
It was definitely a new experience – I really didn’t know what to expect. I was encouraged to see so many people, both young and old, growing restless with the status quo not only on a denominational level, but more importantly on a personal level. I had countless conversations with individuals who made the GCR personal, and consequently want their lives and churches to embody a Great Commission culture. As a church planter, it was encouraging to see the growing awareness of the need to prioritize church planting internationally and in American urban centers.
I struggled with the emotional attachment some seemed to have with our programs and systems. Being younger and having not grown up as a Southern Baptist, it’s probably easier for me to be less attached (or even ignorant) to the way the convention has done things in the past. But the emotional appeals towards and spiritualization of certain programs that are simply tools and a means to fulfilling the Great Commission was difficult to understand. I think this was one of the major reasons that it was crucial to ask the question of why the convention exists in the GCR discussion.
What drew you to this year’s Convention as your first?
The GCR vote. I decided last year to do my best to make it to Orlando after I learned about the GCR.
Why should young Southern Baptists come to a 2-day business meeting? Why would you recommend (or not) to others to attend the Southern Baptist Convention?
I think younger guys tend to be quick to criticize and slow to take the necessary steps to bring about change. And if those necessary steps don’t match our preferences, whether they be cultural or methodological, we tend to flee altogether (I am definitely guilty of this). While attending the SBC was a complete culture shock, I felt that it was the right step towards having a voice in the conversation rather than lobbing grenades from the outside.
In the end, each guy has to make the decision if the Convention is worth fighting for. For those who hold to the affirmative, I think it’s important to not only prioritize making the necessary changes on a local church level, but also be willing to attend the SBC where change is being discussed at a larger level.
In addition to this, it’s also incredibly encouraging to meet up with old friends, make new ones, and recognize that despite our differences and disputes, for two days and under one roof there are Southern Baptists who work to share the gospel all over the world.
This was my first trip to the convention and I enjoyed the pastors conference but not the convention itself. I didn’t vote for the GCR but I do see the need for change. Even though it was my first convention I have been a baptist for all of my life and I have seen plenty of church politics before. I don’t have any affection for church politics and I feel politics crept into the GCR debate. IE Ronnie Floyd mentioning the little girl who asked her daddy if the GCR would pass. I think I threw up in my mouth at that point. It was long and drawn out and not a slam dunk as some would have you believe. If it wasn’t for the amendment to change the cooperative program language it wouldn’t have passed. Spreading the gospel of Jesus is something we should all be doing and i support it. There was just too much politics and not enough vision for me. I couldn’t get a peace about voting for it and I didn’t.
Thanks for the comments. I’m glad you made the trip to the convention. Hope you don’t feel short-changed. Even though you didn’t enjoy the convention, there was much to be thankful for, especially the fact that Southern Baptists were able to disagree without being disagreeable. Also, in regards to politics, I think we’ve all experienced “bad” politics, but they don’t have to be that way. As you know, in order to engage in Southern Baptist life on a denominational level one must engage in a political process. So, politics are unavoidable in the SBC. And, by God’s grace, they can be carried out in a way that’s pleasing to Christ and result in great fruit for the kingdom. I think Ronnie Floyd and the task force did an admirable job on behalf of Southern Baptists. They gave a lot of time, energy, prayer, etc. to their task. Agree or disagree with them, I think at the very least they deserve to be treated with respect. Look, they, like you and me, want to reach the world with the gospel. Even with the disagreements, hopefully, this all will result in greater advancement for the gospel of Jesus Christ.