A few thoughts from the SBC 2014 Annual Meeting:
1. I’m so thankful for Fred Luter’s leadership over the past two years. Rev. Luter has served the SBC with passion and conviction. He lead us from his heart, and he served us selflessly. His tenure will be recorded in our history for so much more than racial reconciliation (although I am very thankful for this, too). He is a strong leader whose love for God is contagious and infectious. I’m thankful for him. Ronnie Floyd will be a wonderful president in the year(s?) to come. But our convention will never forget the humble Christlike steadfastness of this man who has stolen all of our hearts, Dr. Fred Luter.
2. Haters gonna hate. Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook philosophers have ruffled the good spirit of unity this week with their versions of discontented input. Many of them were not even present, and their speculative opinions were based on a glance at the program, and possibly 1/3 viewing of the convention’s happenings online. What I saw was a multicultural, multigenerational community of faith crying out to God for repentance, restoration, and revival… And learning from each other what brotherly love and Christian mission are all about. For some reason, the antiestablishment musings of postmodern America infiltrate the denomination, sometimes from the unlikeliest of places. I agree with CEO Frank Paige – show me a more effective program/partnership to reach the nations for Christ. Splitting hairs over styles of music, people on the platform, and other menial issues does not encourage unity, and certainly does not serve the purpose of edification. But what can I say?… Haters gonna hate. 🙂 The world will know we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. I often pray that we represent Christ in a worthy manner as we publicly interact with (or interact about) one another in our denomination.
3. The torch burns brightly as it passes from one generation to the next. With every passing year, the faces on the stage get younger (or maybe I’m just getting older). But Vanessa and I were struck with the large number of young pastors and church staff members who were present and active this week both on the stage and in the hallways. And the good news is… although the faces are getting younger, biblical inerrancy and doctrinal purity are clearly preserved and championed. While other denominations fight over homosexuality, abortion, leadership scandals, and the nature of salvation, old and young in the SBC unify around strong biblical conviction. Each generation will have to fight their own battles. And I thank God for leaders who have paved the way to a solid foundation, scripturally. I pray our devotion to biblical inerrancy and doctrinal purity remains as steadfast through the coming years as I saw of it this week.
4. God is still using the SBC mightily for His kingdom purposes. Reports from NAMB, IMB, seminaries, and the ERLC demonstrate the global impact the SBC is still making for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Though it is a struggle, and though our leaders call us back to this purpose every year, many of our pastors and churches are keeping the main thing, the main thing. Declining baptism numbers? Yes. And may God stir our hearts to reach more and more. But praise be to Him alone, that the life-saving, eternity-changing truth of the gospel is still the main thing for the SBC.
I am a Christian by God’s grace, and Southern Baptist by conviction. And after this week in Baltimore, MD, I am more aware of God’s great grace and more firm in my Spirit-lead convictions. Thank you to the many SBC workers, volunteers, committee members, and convention leaders who work tirelessly for the glory of our great God.
Grace and Peace,