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Some Southern Baptist Stuff

Any time I post about something related to my denomination I feel obligated to remind you that I couldn’t be more aware of the stigma the words Southern Baptist may have with you. Those words had a stigma with me for a long time. I feel like I need to give you my entire story of how I too have been burned by a SB church but how by God’s grace I learned what real church community can look like and once I separated my experience in SB culture from SB beliefs, I became pretty convinced by the theology, ecclesiology, and missions focus of the Southern Baptists. So now I am one by choice and I like it. Caveat closed. Now onto the news.

I know many who read this are not affiliated with my denomination and truthfully I’m grateful God has given me a partnership with others in the small group world that reach across denom lines. I love it! So for you who are not in my denom, I just want to fill you in on what is happening because this is looking like it will be a pretty significant year in the southern baptist convention.

Once a year reps from all 40k+ SBC churches get together and do a “state of the union” type meeting for a couple of days where we make decisions on how we are going to co-operate as a collection of autonomous local congregations. This year, a pretty significant “motion” is being put before the convention by the “Great Commission Resurgence Task Force.” My lead pastor, J.D. Greear, is on this team of people looking to offer some pretty substantial recommendations towards modifying & updating how these 40k+ churches co-operate. The hope is to make our convention of churches more effective at reaching the US and the world with the gospel, which is one of, and probably the main,  original reasons the convention was created.

Why do I tell you this? Well, a couple of reasons.

1. So you can pray when you think about it over the next 30 days for your SBC friends. We love Jesus too!

2. There are a good amount of young pastors like myself who have been fleeing the SBC en masse (I’m grateful to my friends at B21 working to reverse this trend). Given my history I struggle to blame them. But, I believe these guys are jumping ship at the wrong time for the wrong reasons and I worry they are going to end up dissappointed when the grass isnt greener wherever they go. By that I mean: like me they may not be seeing past the current rough elements (politics & bureaucracy) to realize how much they agree with what the convention of churches believes & is created for. So they will either 1) go out on their own planting a new church out of disappointment & spite which probably isnt the best motive & statistically will end badly by year 2. OR 2) They will (try to) join up with another network or denomination that they really dont agree with theologically but they are attracted to the authenticity or low-level of structure / red-tape.  These guys are going to cause headaches for those networks or denoms in a few years when they try and run their churches with the ecclesiology of an SB church under the authority of a distinctly different church structure. This is bad for both parties. (There are some great networks, like A29 that the Summit partners with, which are offering these guys a home and I am grateful for them. But networks like A29 are intentionally laser-focused on training new church planters not on broad-scale long-term co-operation among churches. This makes them partners with & hopefully not competitors of denoms like the SBC). So will you pray specifically for these young guys? That God would give them wisdom beyond their years as they work through the decision to “stay or go,” a decision which will be influenced by what happens at the annual gathering this June.

So this post went longer than I expected it to. Bottom line, the annual gathering for Southern Baptist Churches this year is the biggest one in a while and I’d just like to ask my friends in other settings to pray for it. We will see what happens.

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