I spent most of last week in Baltimore, attending the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. I did not work things out to attend the convention until the week before due to the timing of it occurring the week after VBS, and there was much follow-up to be completed. It was not an easy trip to make, although I never knew it would be so hard to get back, as I finally left the airport 24 hours later than planned- but that is for another post. The hotel and flight were expensive, and I am thankful for the church’s financial support. Added on top of it all is the fact that it is an inconvenience at home when I am gone. So, why did I attend?
While there were reports, motions made, votes taken, and some discussion, there was also celebration of what God has done through Southern Baptists. I was reminded over and over that we are better together, as we partner to reach the world with the Gospel.
I feel that I have an obligation to attend the annual convention due to the decline in denominational interest among the younger pastors. A common thought is that only older people attend the convention, but as I looked around, there did appear to be a lot of younger people in attendance, a trend that has held true the past few years. That encourages me! Now, I admit that my definition of “younger” is getting older as I age, but the place is not filled with “blue hairs,” although there are lots of “no hairs!” I am concerned with some of the younger Southern Baptists and their unwillingness to support the convention, as well as their arrogant claims to have all of theology figured out; however, I was pleased with the number of younger people I heard excited to be here and support the convention.
Why do I support the Southern Baptist Convention? Here are the main reasons:
Southern Baptists are a people of the Bible. I am pleased to be part of a theological conservative denomination and thankful for those the leadership that brought, and kept, the SBC to that point. While we have a statement of faith (The Baptist Faith and Message), it is centered in Scripture.
Southern Baptists are a people of missions. A highlight for most attendees is the report from the International Mission Board. I always eagerly await Dr. Frank Page’s reports throughout the day to hear about the work of the Cooperative Program. Although I have had concerns about the North American Mission Board’s complete emphasis on church planting, I was also pleased to hear of the North American Mission Board’s emphasis on church revitalization. I am thrilled that new churches are being started across North America’s most populated areas, as well as in other places that have unreached segments of their population!
Southern Baptists are people of the Cooperative Program. I was saved at VBS, called to the ministry at a state evangelism conference, and educated at three Southern Baptist institutions; therefore, I believe I am a product of the Cooperative Program. No one church, nor a small group of churches, can do what Southern Baptists do through the Cooperative Program. Together, we can change the world.
Southern Baptists are a people of conviction. Our convictions are based on Scripture and we do not back down. We do not support homosexuality; we do support the biblical view of marriage of one man and one woman for their lifetime; we do not support gambling or pornography. There were resolutions on these issues and many others. The media reports on the resolutions and people hear that Southern Baptists remain committed to our convictions found in God’s Word.
Is the Southern Baptist Convention perfect? Absolutely not. Neither am I. I am proud to be a Southern Baptist and will continue to urge my church to give all it can to the Cooperative Program and will challenge church members to give sacrificially to the special missions offering. My life has been impacted through the support of generations past and I look forward being part of my generation leaving a legacy to impact others.