My First Trip to the SBC: Day 3 // Final Thoughts
Well, I am back home in Arkansas. Today I spent the morning back and forth between the convention hall and the exhibit hall buying resources to ship back home and listening to the business of the convention. I was most interested in observing the approval of resolutions for this SBC. Resolutions are statements of affirmation about anything that the convention wants to speak to. This year seven resolutions were offered and all passed.
1. Resolution on the centrality of Gospel.
2. Resolution on family worship.
3. Resolution on the scandal of Southern Baptist divorce.
4. Resolution on the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe.
5. Resolution on homosexuality and the United States military.
6. Resolution on the employment non-discrimination act.
7. Resolution of appreciation.
I cut out early and missed the final session of the convention this evening because of a major evangelistic event our church was helping host this evening. And so, thus came to an end my first trip to the SBC.
I have not been shy about my lack of enthusiasm for attending a Southern Baptist Convention. There’s a reason I have been a Southern Baptist my whole life, am now 40 years old, but have not taken the time or money to attend a convention of our network of Southern Baptist churches. I’ve just seen it as a waste of time and of no real benefit to what I do as a local church pastor. But I made the decision to attend this year because of what was front-and-center at this convention…the Great Commission. So here are my final thoughts. They are still pretty fresh as I’ve been off the plane only 3 hours.
1. I am glad I went. The Great Commission Resurgence made it worth it. I felt like I had done my homework ahead of time and that I made a real contribution. I feel like I am coming home with something to offer my church for our own future.
2. The convention is boring about 70% of the time. Now this is me talking. I am sure others find it highly stimulating. But I will note again that LOTS of people come and go for only the reports that are of interest to them. I think, that were it not for a superb exhibit hall, we would all pull our hair out (those of us who have hair). The other 30% of the convention stands the chance of being highly important, as it was this year.
3. The Pastor’s Conference is awesome. Great preaching geared specifically towards pastors and very encouraging. If I go back to the convention it will be a must to go to the pastor’s conference to offset the negatives of the convention experience.
4. I walked away with an appreciation of how this network of 44,000+ churches conducts business. There is a real sense that anybody can make a contribution, no matter what size church they may be a member of. This is not a pastor’s only event. I do not know of any other network that has the grass roots potential as this one.
5. There were MANY younger pastors at the convention. This encourages me greatly. I saw so many people that I knew. Many of them former students from Shiloh who are now in the ministry. I was encouraged by seeing them and I felt that I could still play a role of encouragement in their life, thus my own presence at this SBC may have been beneficial for them. I know it was for me.
6. The SBC needs to take a quantum leap into the here and now in terms of relevance to the average church member in the average church in America. This can be accomplished by internet based voting. Right now, the only way to participate in the convention with a voice is to actually attend the convention in person. The cost of doing so is prohibitive for MOST people. There were roughly 10,800 registered messengers at this convention. And it was one of the larger attendances. BUT we have 44,000+ churches! We didn’t even have an average of one person per church represented. Since many churches bring more than one messenger, the reality is that the vast majority of our network of churches are unrepresented. If they cannot afford to be there EVER, then what is the motivation to be engaged in the network? Now the SBC made a big leap forward in recent years when they began broadcasting the convention on the internet. Now anyone can watch live. This is huge. I know that I had folks at home telling me this year that so many people were watching at one point that there were transmission problems. So the interest is there. Now just imagine how exciting and engaging it would be if every messenger from every church in our convention could actually cast an electronic vote. My question is why can’t this happen? I can renew my car tags online. I can pay bills online. I can pay taxes online. I can pay my tithe online. I can pre-register for the convention online. I can vote for American Idol online. Why can’t I vote at the SBC online? Why? Online voting would literally revolutionize the SBC. It would pull in a whole new and younger generation of Christians in our churches. Imagine pastors educating their churches each year on what is at stake. Imagine the churches gathering to watch the events of the SBC live. Imagine the elected messengers casting their vote, exercising the voice of their church, live via the internet. Just imagine what this would do for our network of churches. Once again I ask why would we not do this?
7. For those who believe that attending the SBC is just a vacation for the pastor, I can assure you that it is NOT. Yes we were in Orlando, but honestly, the convention could have been anywhere. The planned events kept me very, very busy. We started early, went all day, and went late. Finding time to eat was difficult. There was no time at all to “enjoy Orlando.” I did not hang out by the pool. I did not go to Disney World. I did not sleep in every day and lounge around. I was up early, constantly moving back and forth between venues and meetings, and in the hotel room late. Was the convention fun? No. It was work. I am glad I am home so I can relax and “go to work” tomorrow.
Will I go back? Probably. I can’t say right now if I will be in Phoenix next year. But I did feel that it was worth my time and the expense to attend the SBC this year. Thanks for following along.
All for Christ’s Great Commission.