The Relevance of Being Southern Baptist
I had a very proud moment this past week as a Southern Baptist pastor. Growing up, I admit I really did not “get” all the denominational “stuff” that people in my church would talk about. I also remember clearly how ridiculous I thought it was that the SBC passed a resolution boycotting Disney in 1997. Something in my spirit said that this was just not the kind of thing a denomination of 44,000 churches needed to be focused on in order to remain relevant. I suspect that many others joined me in that sentiment.
Much has changed in recent years. Denominations continue to get a bad wrap and many deservedly so. But my appreciation for my Southern Baptist roots and for who we are in the current cultural climate has never been higher. As the culture continues its slide into secularism and as many of the old mainline denominations slide to meet the culture, as non-denominational churches struggle to have a voice as one church in a plurality of religious voices, there is a place, a need, for the voice of biblical truth that Southern Baptists are speaking as a network of 44,000+ churches and 16+ million members.
Last week, the Southern Baptist network met in New Orleans for its annual meeting. As is the case at all annual meetings, resolutions were drafted, presented, and then voted on. This year, the slate of passed resolutions had great relevance and spoke with erudite clarity to several cultural issues facing our nation. Two in particular were powerful and needed statements, and I share them for your reading here. One is a resolution On Protecting Religious Liberty and the other is a resolution On Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Rights Rhetoric. I encourage you to read them in full.
On another note, I was also encouraged and proud of the election of Pastor Fred Luter as the first African-American president of the SBC. For a denomination born in 1845 out of support for slavery, this moment was truly a testimony to our repentance as a denomination and God’s ability to forgive and heal. Pastor Luter is a godly man and the pastor of the great Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans. I invite you to join me in prayer for Pastor Luter as he leads Southern Baptists forward with a voice of righteousness and relevance.