SBC 2019—A Can’t Miss Family Reunion
by Lyla Curtis
In my years as a pastor’s wife, I have attended countless conventions. Mostly, because I get to go with my husband to cool places where we can meet with friends in ministry from other parts of the country, walk through the exhibit areas and be reminded of all that Southern Baptists do around the world, shop at the biggest Lifeway EVER, and just hang out with my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Granted, I am also a woman that wants to be “in the know.” I love using my voice in voting on important SBC issues, missional direction, and important officers. I love being a part of the interesting conversations—listening, learning, and sharing my opinions.
If that sounds like you too, then you can’t miss THIS YEAR! No, there aren’t any important elections, and Birmingham is no Orlando (that’s next year), but have you seen the schedule for the main sessions of the SBC? Yes, there will be the typical reports from all the entities that are necessary but (let’s be honest) less than riveting. Many SBCers trust that the entities are fulfilling their designed missions and consequently “check out” during those times. Yes, Robert’s Rules of Order will keep us all in line. Yes, you’ll still witness some brow-raising resolutions offered from the microphones on the general floor. But you might want to schedule your “network” time a little better this year so as not to miss the timely and tantalizing topics that will be addressed from the stage this June.
We will experience some “firsts” for the SBC: panel discussions on the main stage; risky yet relevant topics addressed and discussed; and a report given on an issue that has been ignored for decades. This is an exciting time for SBCers! So, let’s go into this convention with fresh eyes and Spirit-filled anticipation. In preparation for this particular convention, here’s a light-hearted list of suggestions on what to bring as we prepare for Southern Baptist’s annual “family reunion.”
Don’t forget your matching shirts.Have you ever been to a city park and witnessed a big, family reunion? For many family reunions, matching shirts are a fun reminder to observers and participants that everyone is a part of one big, happy family. Matching shirts also make it difficult for one participant to stand out above the others. It levels the ground. It helps remove our ever-present temptation to measure ourselves against the success of others, at least in appearance.
This is a great reminder for those of us who attend the convention (maybe we really should have matching shirts). We are all a part of the family of God, and our reunion should look and sound like we are family, not foes (“one body”–Eph 4:1-6).
Bring your celebration gear. Remember, we’re all at a family reunion for a common purpose—to celebrate our family. Or, when it comes to the SBC, to celebrate the advancement of the gospel through the mission of like-minded churches. This is important to keep in mind, because the varying ministries within our convention family are equally important in God’s mission. Our common mission is carried out through a variety of methods and means. There is room for a wide spectrum of preferences in the way in which our mission is accomplished. However, there should be absolutely no room for feelings of inferiority or superiority based on gifting, numbers, size, or scope of ministry within our larger, common mission (Phil 2:3-4).
Bring the proper glasses. We must each make a few key choices about our focus during our family reunion. Will we highlight the successes and celebrate the wins? Or, will we be consumed with the failures? Of course, we all know that there are things in every organization that can be improved. We are, after all, redeemed sinners attempting to carry out God’s mission in an incredibly broken world. Will you be the voice for positive solutions or a negative voice who ultimately becomes a part of the problem? Will you be open to positive change, or will you hold on to the past simply because you are afraid it will disrupt the status quo?
Let’s check the attitude, focus, and motivation that informs our opinions. We should celebrate our common ground and our wins, discuss our different perspectives “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4:2),” and use this time for constructive dialogue in the safe space of family.
One final thought concerning our common purpose—Let’s hold fast to our common truth anchor in all areas as we dialogue and decide on our future. That truth anchor is the inerrant Word of God which will keep us properly grounded as we navigate together into the future (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Get some good pictures while you’re there. Of course, we will want to share our thoughts, insights, and experiences from the family reunion on social media—it’s what we do these days. In our desire to add our two cents and get retweeted, let’s be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).” Just imagine the impact we could have on a watching world if grace and “love for one another (Jn 13:35)” was more evident than snarky sarcasm or divisive dissension.
I can’t wait to take it all in this year at the convention! Let’s prayerfully prepare appropriately. I hope to see you in Birmingham at the family reunion!