This post is by Alan Cross, and a republication of his thoughts published earlier today on his blog. We will be re-posting (with his permission, of course) some of his impressions ov the SBC annual meeting over the next couple of days.
I am kind of in shock regarding what I am seeing at the SBC (in a good way). It is clear that there is new leadership emerging within the SBC. A friend of mine emailed me last night asking me if he thought that these new leaders would end up in the same situation that our previous leadership found themselves in: mired in bureaucracy and institutional survival. I told him that it was possible because institutions have a way of taking over movements and good leadership. But, then I said that all that most younger leaders and pastors wanted was a denomination that stood behind them as they initiated the work that God had placed on their heart and facilitated gospel movement and partnership, not control. We would also be really happy if the SBC was not an embarrassment to us. O.S. Hawkins, the president of Guidestone financial, in his report, said that the GCR would unleash the churches of the SBC to engage the mission of God personally. Amen. That is what we are hoping for.
Johnny Hunt appointed the GCR Task Force that will meet over the next year to explore how the SBC can better carry out the Great Commission. The 18 members are (including Johnny Hunt): Ronnie Floyd (chairperson), Jim Richards, Frank Page, David Dockery, Simon Tsoi, Donna Gaines, Al Gilbert, J.D. Greear, Tom Biles, Danny Akin, R. Albert Mohler Jr., John Drummond, Harry Lewis, Mike Orr, Roger Spradlin, Bob White, Ken Whitten, and Ted Traylor. This looks like a good team. I am happy to see Ronnie Floyd have a significant role. He is a good man and I know that when he did not win the presidency in 2006, it was a blow. It is troubling that only one woman is on the team. She will be pretty lonely, I would think. I don’t think I’d be very comfortable serving on a team if I were the only man, but the SBC has often struggled to find a way for women to serve. Still, I would have had more than one woman on the team. Donna Gaines is the wife of Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis, Adrian Rogers’ old church.
One thought on this: While this team is full of wise statesmen that will be listened to, I hope that they bring in the thoughts of more people outside of the establishment and more younger leaders. I could give them a list of people that have great ideas that they should at least talk with as could many others who have been paying attention over the past few years. I will be interested to see what they come up with.
SBC Resolutions: I praise God that the resolutions were not a complete embarrassment.
There was one that promoted adoption that was really wonderful. It expressd God’s concern for the 150 million orphans in the world and called us to do something about it.
Another resolution affirmed President Obama for his family and his accomplishments in becoming the first African American president. It then made critical statements over his positions on several areas. We must affirm what is good and speak against what is not. We should do this for both Democrats and Republicans. If Southern Baptists do this, we can regain our integrity in the public sphere.
There was also a resolution on sexuality that spoke against homosexuality and its protection in the public phere. I am coming to the point where I think that the public acceptance of homosexuality is inevitable. We are going to have to figure out how to keep standing against this practice while also engaging a culture that accepts it. We haven’t figured this out yet.
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and the leader of Acts29 remains the topic of conversation at the SBC, at least informally. He was NOT boycotted and his books were NOT banned yesterday. Motions were brought up to that point, but they were not passed. Our church is about to partner on some level with Acts29 (in a sense) through the Journey Church in St. Louis in India. This is the future of engaging in the missionary task in the SBC. I am glad that we decided to not address Mark Driscoll because he talks about things in the pulpit that we might disagree with. He isn’t even Southern Baptist and the annual meeting has no business dealing with things like this. But, I think that the future of the SBC will look more like Mark Driscoll than not, at least in his missional engagement if not in his more controversial attributes.
Turning of the SBC: As I said last night, the SBC is turning. The torch has been passed to a younger generation of leadership. We are headed to more grassroots involvement and decentralization (I hope). Many are still understandably skeptical, but I refuse to live my life in a constant state of cynicism and criticism. I am going to go out on a limb here, have some faith, and believe that God is working to raise up something beautiful in the SBC among all those who will choose to obey and cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Many churches are going to die in the next 10 years, but many more will live and thrive. I believe that there are good days ahead for the SBC IF we return the mission to the local church and IF the local church engages with the mission that God gave her and IF the SBC really exists to assist the local church in carrying out her mission. Basically, if we would stop fighting, repent of our sins, unite around the gospel and the person of Jesus Christ, partner together in MANY different ways and networks to advance the gospel locally and globally, and be the people that God has called us to be, then there are many bright days ahead and God will do amazing things. He already is through the church I’m a part of and through many other churches I know. That can spread because God’s Spirit knows no boundaries. We just need to cooperate with Him.
Let’s cooperate with the Spirit of God.