SBC 2017: PRESSING ONWARD TOWARDS RESOLUTION #10
Raise your hand if you're emotionally exhausted from the Southern Baptist Convention 2017!
It's been about 24 hours since the SBC officially ended, and I was asked to share some perspective on the highlights, lowlights, and touch on where we go from here.
If you were not there, may I take the moment to say... if you want to see our convention thrive, then you need to show up. I get it, it's expensive, and it's a business meeting -- but plan now; it's in Dallas in June 12-13, 2018. And don't miss the Pastor's Conference, lead by H.B. Charles. It's gonna be good, y'all.
During our time, those of us who were there saw some incredible things (ahem, IMB commissioning -- was that not incredible?), and not-so-incredible things (I make a motion that man-buns and ponytails be out of order in perpetuity. Also, God bless Wiley Drake -- no further comment). We saw old heroes (Paige Patterson, Albert Mohler, Danny Akin, et al), and the emergence of new ones (Russell Moore, Jason Allen, J.D. Greear). *As an aside, take time to publicly thank Dr. Moore; unless you don't want to -- that's fine.
If you want a run-down of what took place, there are others who have done that with better skill than I (besides, as I was typing a summary, my computer crashed. Took that as a sign I should just move on to other important things!).
Forging Ahead In Light Of Racial Equality
Every year it's a little different, but the biggest news from the convention this year was the Committee on Resolutions' decision to decline the resolution against "alt-right" and white racism/supremacy. If you don't know what those things are, The Gospel Coalition gives some great insight.
In recent days, I've felt the alt-right wrath, but none like Micah Fries on the ole twitters. It's evil, vile, and no doubt needs to be repudiated. Also, the "block" button and "mute" are beautiful things.
So the resolution passed...now what? I thought of three things:
I. Remember Where We've Been
I'll be brief here, but the reality is that the Southern Baptist Convention was originally formed for Baptists in the south who had the desire to maintain their slave-owning (versus those from the North who set out to abolish slavery). This is a stain we can never erase; it's just a fact. Yeah, yeah, YOU didn't ever own any slaves, but there's the chance your family did. At least mine did in the tobacco farms of North Carolina. I can't erase that history, nor do I think we ever will forget it. However, it's my opinion that we should take every moment to repudiate the wickedness and anti-gospel posture of racism and never shy away from decrying that tomfoolery.
Ironically, America's history is the SBC's history. I'm hearing rumblings of motions to remove the name "Southern" from the SBC for this very reason. If we forget our history, we'll miss part of the reason why so many African American friends want no part of our denomination. I can't change their opinion on that, but I can rise up when opportunity presents itself -- again, and again. Every time we have a chance to repudiate racism, we must.
II. Remember Where We Are
We're a big family. Really big. We have kissin' cousins, and crazy aunts and uncles, who, at least in our system, are allowed opportunities to speak from the floor. If you've ever moderated a business meeting, you know what I'm talking about.
But we're a big family. And we're a family at a crossroads -- generationally, politically, socially, and economically. It's why it's all the more crucial that if you want to see change in our convention, you should be there. (By the way, you and I would not be here without the Conservative Resurgence, which took place DURING a convention.) But this is where we are. We're more engaged in social issues, and we're more aware of political issues; but we're also more passionate than ever for the world to hear the truth of the gospel and be changed by it.
This is why we have to understand the processes by which the convention is run. When we know the procedures, we'll more likely change the direction of things. We should also do all we can to become more engaged in the process. Conventions will die when people stop cooperating for missions. Is that not why we REALLY exist? Which leads me to...
III. Remember Where We're Going
Pastor, brother, what is God calling you to do? Do you have the courage to do it? What should we tell our churches about what took place this week? What should we bring to their attention to sift through? They have likely seen the news reports, and probably have already formed their opinions on what took place. And let's be honest, many media outlets will not report the missions, evangelism, NAMB, IMB, Mission: Dignity, etc. -- they'll report that which grabs headlines.
I'd encourage you to educate your church about how the committee runs its business meetings. Share with them the nature of resolutions, and how they are non-binding statements from the SBC. The headquarters for the SBC is not in Nashville, but in YOUR local church. The autonomy of the local church allows these resolutions to be what they are: non-binding signposts, showing the convention and the world the direction we're headed; it might be the most important group in our SBC.
Do we get things right the first time? Nope. But we'll do our best to make it happen. But what should you do?
First, it'd be my encouragement for you to consider taking time, either during your regular worship service, a special called business meeting, or regular business meeting, and share with them Resolution #10 (or #666 as our friend Dr. Moore dubbed it). Read it out loud. Share with them WHY it matters, and if they have problems with it, help them know what the alt-right is. I bet a number of my people don't even know! Help them know white supremacy is real as well.
If you think it will cause problems, take the resolution to your church leadership or deacons and ask them to consider giving it vocal affirmation. Of course, if you're against the resolution, that's a different story.
Second, you should really grow your relationships with people of different ethnicities. I was speaking with an African American denominational leader who commented that he had to remain silent and neutral to maintain employment. That shouldn't be. But you should begin now building relationships with African Americans, and listen to what they have to say. Support. Encourage. Build up. By building that relationship, you can speak up.
Third, find ways to love your city/town. I'm not advocating that you start a new ministry, but rather go ask your mayor, city council, school board members, etc. how your church can HELP, and how you can just serve them. You'll be amazed at the open doors you'll find.
Finally, you should pray for a passion to share the gospel and win the sinner to Christ. That includes the alt-right white supremacist, the down-on-his-luck man you just met, and your neighbor. Let's take the challenge from our SBC President, and let's allow this moment to show the world that we repudiate hatred, and want to come-along those who, for decades, have felt silenced. And let's win people to Jesus.
Friends, one final thing -- I say all this as encouragement. We have much more in common than we have differences. Let's pray together and be humble. Let's be examples to our world how to build bridges and see lives changed by the gospel.